discovery 2000 howard taylor phenomena

artwork : elements of taylor

The Horizontal Landscape : Development of an idea

I think the first jolt you get is a change of climatic conditions, the sun’s straight up above you, it tends to flatten things out, you miss that half covered sky or the diffused light that you get in Europe. You have burnt out stuff in the bush, it’s a harsher country altogether, so even if you think like Constable say, in the beginning, you come out here you can’t really paint like Constable”.

Taylor discussing his response to the Australian landscape on his return from Europe.

This section presents a group of works spanning nearly half a century of endeavor. Seen chronologically they point to a journey of abstraction illustrating a preoccupation with horizontal and linear space. All take their inspiration from the observed landscape and whilst the artist worked on parallel ideas and motifs, which naturally intersected with and influence his thinking, seen collectively the works show how he refined his response to this particular theme over a forty-three year period.

Pine trees 1953
oil on composition board
52.0 x 81.7cm
Private Collection, Western Australia
Pine trees 1953
In the early 1953 work Pine trees the view of a lake fringed by a copse of pine trees is largely representational. The journey from foreground to distant hills is travelled through a series of clearly delineated horizontal bands – foreshore, lake, middle distance, tree line and hills. Modelling is isolated to the trees in the central picture plane but the treatment of the remaining elements is essentially flat.
Trees and sky 1976
oil on composition board
22 x 28.7
The University of Western Australia Art Collection,
Gift of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council 1977
26 Trees and sky 1976
Northcliffe across the paddock 1976
oil on composition board
22.5 x 36.2
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Gift of Sue and Ian Bernadt, 1991
Northcliffe across the paddock 1976
Hillside 1990
oil on canvas
92.5 x 182.6cm
The Holmes a Court Collection, Heytesbury
Hillside  1990
In the works Northcliffe across the paddock and Trees and sky, both completed twenty-three years later, we see a refinement in approach. The horizontal has become a predominant feature and the perspective more ambiguous. Any sense of dimensionality, for example in the hovering cloud mass of Northcliffe and the tree forms in Trees and sky, is presented through refined linear composition rather than modelling.

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Forest land 1982
oil and wax on shaped panel
142.5 x 213 x 11
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Forest land 1982
Masked landscape 1984
oil on panel
91 x 136
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Masked landscape 1984
Green paddock illuminated 1986
oil on canvas
121.5 x 82.5
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Green paddock illuminated 1986
Whist the artist revisits this compositional motif fourteen years later in Hillside his focus in the early 80s moves to experiments with more completely abstracted forms and surface considerations. In Forest land 1982, Masked landscape 1984 and Green paddock illuminated 1986 for example the landscape is rendered as flat panels and planes of colour. The Open country works, also completed in this period, again reference a strong horizontal composition.

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Open country I 1982
oil on two panels
119.5 x 182.5
The Holmes à Court Collection, Heytesbury
Open country I 1982
Open country II 1982
oil on two panels
119.5 x 182.5
The Holmes à Court Collection, Heytesbury
Open country II 1982
Tree line 1993
oil on panel
60.7 x 121.8
Collection Douglas and Magda Sheerer, Galerie Düsseldorf, Perth
Tree line 1993
Tree line with cloud shadow 1993
oil on panel
60.7 x 121.8
Collection Robin and Liz, Andrew and Fiona Forbes
Tree line with cloud shadow 1993
Tree line with blue cloud 1993
oil on panel
60.7 x 121.8
The Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth
Tree line with blue cloud 1993
The idea is re-worked in 1993 as a series of variations Tree line, Tree line with cloud shadow and Tree line with blue cloud. The works offering the viewer a choice of interpretation based solely on the resonance between the colours of the individual horizontal bars.
Farm landscape 1996
oil on panel
100 x 240
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Purchased with funds from the Sir Claude Hotchin Art Foundation, 1996
Farm landscape 1996
Interestingly Farm landscape, completed three years later, seems on first consideration to revert back to the 1970s styling, with the view through the tree line leaning more towards the representational. The horizontal however is still very evident but the play of the vertical perhaps points to an amalgam of ideas connecting to the artist’s concerns with light, shadow and form.

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