discovery 2000 howard taylor phenomena

artwork : elements of taylor

Light : Surface treatments

Day time moon 1997
synthetic polymer paint and oil on panel
120 x 141
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Gift of the Friends of the Art Gallery in honour of Judy Hughes, 1997
Day time moon 1997
Sun figure 1989
oil on canvas
90 x 120
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
South Australian Government Grant, 1991
Sun figure 1989

Howard Taylor focused a great deal of time trying to avoid the vagaries and uncertainty of light when presenting shapes. His solution was to paint in the effect himself.

"You can paint a shaped structure on a flat surface, make it look shaped and fix the situation as far as the light goes, that brings in, it can bring in another element which is illusion which becomes a part of the game too".

Howard Taylor

Light figure 1992
oil on three panels
overall: 119.7 x 269.5 each panel: 119.7 x 89.7
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Purchased with funds from the Sir Claude Hotchin Art Foundation, 1993
Light figure 1992

For the artist the examination of the phenomenon of light resulted in visual phenomenon. Taylor does not attempt to duplicate the appearance of phenomena but instead elaborates a schema to support composite works that build on the visual experience of recollected phenomena.

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Light 1986
oil on canvas on panel
95 x 95
Private collection, Western Australia
Light 1986
Light source reverse 1994
oil on panel and synthetic polymer paint on composition board
209 x 209 x 9
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Purchased with funds from the Sir Claude Hotchin Art Foundation, 1995
Light source reverse 1994

He rarely developed subjects naturalistically, but instead, elected to continually test different ways of manifesting the majesty, power and animation he found in the landscape. His interest in the surfaces of his subject matter revealed an emphatic directional light, which in turn built pictorial, visual movement.

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Moon Passing 1996
oil on panel
82.5 x 120.8
Private collection, Claremont, Western Australia
Moon Passing 1996
Sun wall 1997
oil on incised panel
141.5 x 119.8
Collection Sue and Ian Bernadt
Sun wall 1997

Light was also portrayed in the basic binary figure/ground relationship, the figure/foreground relationship established by two rectangles carries the description of light observed in the bush as it plays over two or more surfaces. The vaporous quality of each surface and the intangible edges of each form achieve a startling intensity concerned with the 'very structure of light', translating the painting into an examination of colour on colour and surface quality. Subject matter is heightened through the use of a systematic arrangement of information and an emphasis on tonal value within a restricted palette.

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Bush fire day 1996
synthetic polymer paint and oil on panel
82.5 x 144.5
Private collection, Safety Bay, Western Australia
Bush fire day 1996

Colour, for the artist, increasingly became an epidermis covering a skeleton. Accordingly each skeleton required a different manner of isolation and illumination with some colours forming haloes, coronas or orioles.

In the landscape the spherical figure is present in both sun and moon and, if divested of associational values, become an excellent subject for study - 'the object in space'. In Light source reverse for example the figure is isolated from the ground but is intended to be seen on a light neutral wall and illuminated frontally with suffused light. The figure is given slight relief and a large scale to stand up to any "vagaries" of exhibition. The two bands of matt colour (from the 'non-light' side of the spectrum) at the contour of the central disc soften the transition from it to the wall. In fact, there is a blurred 'humming' contour, which dominates the minor action of the slight modelling of the disc itself - a flattened sphere.

In comparison to references of sun or moon as light source, the use of coin terminology, observe-reverse, is suggested in the darkened aspect and the side of the disc being turned towards the spectator. The light source of the face shows as a glimmer at the contour in contrast to the after-image of the dark figure on the wall, which, in turn contributes, to the overall scheme of relationships and reversals implicit in the work.

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Sphere 1996
oil on canvas
122 x 121.6
Private collection, Safety Bay, Western Australia
Sphere 1996

During the last two decades of his life Taylor explored this concern for optical contrast through increasingly minute adjustments of transparency, opacity, texture, underpainting, gloss, hue, shape or colour. Using the artist's 'kit bag' to transform nature observed into works of outstanding formal clarity and intellectual resolve. Light figure 1992, a large sun triptych, was a practical solution that allowed him to work at an increased scale.

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