Murmurs are words barely heard, all vibration and hot breath in an ear. Partially understood, they point to unfolding processes of comprehension, slowly dawning... what is said and un-said. Visual equivalents might be ways of starting to see shapes, things, figures as they appear in a painting: a cat daintily drinks from her bowl; a chestnut horse twitches its tail back and forth by its broad side-flank; flautists embrace whilst still entangled with their instruments. A pair of lovers cling together like limpets, their curvaceous thighs and calves crook back like chicken drumsticks beneath bedcovers. The nape of a woman’s neck becomes a copse of tall trees and bong-smoke billows in a bedroom scene. There is a serenity about the face of a tool as it hammers a nail and a sensual power to the warm-worn patina of a leather riding-saddle. An omnipotent deity holds our world in the palm of one hand and clutches its satellite, a moon-pearl between two fingers.
Hot colours predominate, there is burgundy, tan, maroon, rust, red, orange-red, dark brown, even puce. Taylor’s palette in this new suite of works betrays the influence of American modernist painters and their approaches to depicting land, Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico or the California of Agnes Pelton, for example. Curious ways of seeing are inflected by various painted surfaces, there is calico, linen, canvas and hessian. Acrylic, sometimes combined with ink or pastel, has been applied in order to create warm, generous, curvilinear and cleverly composed forms. A practice of drawing as well as a co-opting of objects from around the artist’s studio have been employed in order to construct each image. Things are technically constructed, they come together, but only just. On the cusp of falling apart, at any moment they may participate in processes of flux, before re-joining anew in different configurations. Although each form is perfectly composed within the frame of the painting, they are also cunningly cropped, as though there is the potential for them to exceed the picture plane.
Pleasure and enjoyment are central to this body of works. A sense of fluidity and languor is evoked by the swooping and waved forms. Figuring singularities are captured and held on surfaces uneven and smooth in bold and vibrant hues, producing a delicious sense of eroticism.
About the artist
Imogen Taylor (b. 1985) is known for creating geometrical abstractions that engage and play with the forms and legacies of modernisms. Though she draws from the abstracted forms and coloured juxtapositions of historic art movements, her paintings are stripped of the masculine self-seriousness that saturates the source material. Instead, in their vibrant interplay of thickly applied colour and contrasts between imposing parallel lines and soft curves, the work is joyful, sincere, and pleasurable.
Taylor graduated in 2007 from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and in 2010 gained a Post-Graduate Diploma of Fine Arts. Significant solo exhibitions include: Quiet Motel, Whangārei Art Museum, Whangārei (2022); Sapphic Fragments, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, Dunedin (2020); Pocket Histories, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland (2018); Social Studies, the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt (2019) and BODY LANGUAGE, Artspace, Auckland (2015). In 2019 Taylor was the recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship and in 2017 she was artist in residence at McCahon house. The monograph IMOGEN TAYLOR was published by Michael Lett in April 2022.