object in the ground '89 howard taylor phenomena

phenomena exhibition : exhibiton thesis

The last two decades of the Australian artist Howard Taylorís life mark a period of outstanding achievement and consolidation. Many of the motifs he elaborated in this latter period, such as sun/moon spheres, forest figures, regeneration, and landscape colonnades can be traced to their origins in the 1950s. Two other periods of intense artistic activity and achievement, in addition to the paintings and sculptures produced in the 1990s, are also featured in the exhibition. They are the flight motif and bush structure forms from 1950-1957 and the weather phenomena (light, wind, rain, rainbows) oil-on-board sketches produced following the artistís move to Northcliffe in the south of Western Australia.

After a career spanning 60 years, Howard Taylor remained virtually unknown outside of Western Australia. In 1986 he was honoured as the first recipient of the Australia Councilís Inaugural Emeritus Award for his lifetime contribution to the visual arts. This award recognised Howard Taylorís unique contribution as an artist to our understanding of the visual diversity and experience of the Australian landscape.

While Taylor was acknowledged for his outstanding achievements, the 1980s also marked what could be considered the beginning of a second career. Howard Taylorís art is unique in Australia and on a par with that of Tom Roberts, Fred Williams, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd in terms of its contribution to an understanding of how intimately connected Australian cultural identity is with a sense of place, with land and locality.

Taylorís practice drew upon his experience of visual phenomena in the natural environment. His works elaborate his response to observations of the landscape of Western Australia and particularly the Karri forests in the south of Western Australia. While each work is based upon the landscape in the immediate proximity of his home in Northcliffe, it is the optical clarity and intellectual rigour of his pursuits that sets him apart. The works focus at a deeper level on phenomenological and perceptual issues. At the centre of his pursuits was light: light bouncing off, penetrating, being absorbed by surfaces, about the way light is perceived.

Rarely in a return to what might be considered traditional subjects, has an artist invested his paintings and sculpture with such vigour, complexity and intellectual rigour. Howard Taylor transformed the landscape genre by creating a unique vision of the Australian landscape, creating a schematic style of sculpture and painting where abstracted images and process are inextricably linked. Taylorís oeuvre shares an ever-expanding field of visual observation with his audience within the ever illusive present through works which trace the effects of light and re-define space.

Exhibition Curator : Gary Dufour, Deputy Director Art Gallery of Western Australia

Exhibition Curator and Project Manager : Russell Storer, Curator Museum of Contempoary Art Sydney

Project Manager : Corine Van Hall, Project Manager Art Gallery of Western Australia