Published February 20, 2014
“Rodney Taylor: Impure Abstraction,” a survey of the Buffalo-based painter’s works from the mid-1990s to the present, will be on display Feb. 27 through May 10 in the first floor gallery space of the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.
The exhibition will open with an artist’s reception from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 27 in the gallery. The reception is free and open to the public.
“Impure Abstraction” explores how Taylor uses abstraction and metaphor “to convey the experience of contemporary urban life and societal trauma,” according to curator Sandra Q. Firmin.
“Produced through a dense combination of muted and lurid pigments mixed with clay, Taylor’s peeling and cracking surfaces are like human skin, worn sidewalks or arid deserts,” Firmin says. “City streets, windows, crisscrossing tree limbs or prison bars are frequent structuring elements in his work, and he uses these abstracted grids to communicate the contrasting experiences of barriers and movement, as well as the interplay between lived realities and the interior imagination.”
Taylor’s canvases and drawings on paper are often “exposed and vulnerable in places where the support is stained or left completely raw,” Firmin says. Collage elements, like old drawings or candy bar wrappers — “shredded bits of the real world” — frequently become part of the paintings.
In Taylor’s “Middle Passage” series from the mid-1990s, “bodies missing a variety of limbs emerge from somewhere deep inside the canvas,” Firmin explains. In his “Hero” series, “Drawn lines of tumbling comic book characters and other figurative elements tag the surface, sharing space with large amorphous forms that coalesce into human heads and reclining figures before they lose their tenuous grasp on figuration and recede back into an all-consuming abstraction.”
Taylor’s work has been exhibited internationally, and is in gallery, private and museum collections, including that of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the collection of Bill and Camille Cosby.
Educated at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Taylor was a recipient of a Camille Cosby Fellowship and then attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He was a Milton Avery School of the Arts Fellow at Bard College.
The UB Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 716-645-6913.