[Henry Taylor’s paintings are transfixing for me. I’m infinity shy of his league as a painter, but I was touched by the “road of chaos… road of paint” phrase that Zadie Smith uses to name the path that Taylor has taken. (This wonderful article has also brought me my first encounter with the adverbialization of “synecdoche.”) For me, trying to paint is as necessary as it is fraught with anguish. I’m guessing crochet might be more relaxing!]
Horses, in Taylor’s work, appear sometimes as a symbol of freedom and power and sometimes as an expression of the opposite: power restrained, power trapped and fenced in.
The artist who once, back at Camarillo State Mental Hospital, painted a suffering patient synecdochically, with a screaming mouth for a head, could have easily become a commercial artist, using the part to represent the whole, pitching and selling on either side of the horizontal line that bisects so many of his canvases. He could have been a maker of icons and iconography, like Warhol, who made a Campbell’s soup can a metaphor for capitalism and made repetition itself a metaphor for fame. Instead, Taylor has chosen the road of chaos—that is, the road of paint.
(Zadie Smith, “Henry Taylor’s Promiscuous Painting,” New Yorker, July 30, 2018 issue)
Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.