Art / “Recent Works”, Ben Taylor. At Nancy Sever Gallery, Civic, to June 12. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
FANTASY and reality often cross paths in the art world, in “Recent Works” by Ben Taylor, these genres come together through mystical landscapes and formal studies.
As a graduate of the Canberra School of Art, and lecturer in printmaking there from 1983 to 1985, Taylor has been exhibiting throughout Australia since the early 1980s. His works can be found in leading collections.
Between landscapes, portraiture and timber forms, Taylor’s latest exhibition shows he can create in many styles across a range of subjects. Each one proves his attachment to place and to painting.
His “Mystical landscape”, 2022, an acrylic work treads the territory that Dante Alighieri could have imagined in his underworld. Earthy colours in an enclosed valley suggest a dangerous and lonely place.
Taylor’s 2020 work, titled “Anouk”, is a loving portrait that captures a moment of solitude and contemplation, perhaps even ecstasy in a dreamy mood of pale violet and the darkest black.
“Pine Box”, 2020, is a simple statement of something left behind, maybe forgotten, but the form of the box has captured the artist’s attention. He has given it life and seized its moment in time while creatively representing the solidity of its form.
Several small intimate works portray studies of places and things that are full of life and colour. Most of the large-scale works follow the mystical representation of ferns, forests and trees. These artworks take on an anthropomorphic depiction of the human in nature, or the human as nature.
The colours are strong like the curling forms. Straight lines don’t exist, and everything has a feeling of age and mystery. They draw a viewer in. Perhaps there’s something of the carnivorous plant species found in the fictional tale of “The Day of the Triffids” in these works. Plants and trees have come alive, maybe threatening and violent, but surely, they have real motion. They are almost human.
Taylor’s textures are real and earthy. Each mark is fine-tuned to represent the living form of nature. They are like the real thing and like an imaginary world at the same time.
The landscape works are cartoonish, gothic, and creepy. They jump out from the cotton substrate to attack the viewer. These are paintings of the imagination and reality. Everyone of these absorbing works is worth more than one look.
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