Ikebana  2018 –

With this body of work, Taylor has created a compelling interperetation of the tradition of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.

A treasured practice with a strident methodology, beneath its captivating display of beauty are deeper metaphors that symbolize human traits and ideals, the changing of seasons and the cycle of life. 

Taylor is concerned with how kebana’s visual language relates to his painting process: emphasising motion using ‘active empty space’; leading the eye with shifts in colour; creating a unity of design with line, mass and texture.

Opting for chisels, butcher knives, and trowels over paint brushes, there is an undeniable physicality to Taylor’s process which perhaps more closely resembles a horticulturist at work. Carving forms into the panel with controlled knife hacks, he creates a subtle foil to the otherwise classically feminine subject of flowers. In this way, Taylor’s works resist a romanticized depiction of the subject matter, elevating the still life tradition through this subversive process. 

The outcome is a refined display of floral elements that intrude into and also break the picture plane, taking on a sculptural quality which further mimics their inspiration. These moments of texture literally hover above the substrate, where patient layering has created a surface of delicately varied chromatic depths. 

Not only do the interplay of these material mechanisms convey Taylor’s engagement with Japanese aesthetics, they also reflect his response to the strains of our visually saturated, over-stimulating digitized world.

Confronting the relentless emotional onslaught of our modern era, both the process and the austere result of these pieces provide a sense of respite. With attention given to the ephemeral nature of the subject, a deeper level of presence is required to consider one’s place in both space and time—a welcome distinction from the timelessness and placelessness of the online void.

Madeline Barber

Winter, from The Flowers of the Four Seasons 2020