Sunday, 12 November 2017

Life in the abstract: George Taylor’s fifty years as an artist




In his work, Taylor attempts to organise aggregated glimpses and fragments of form, the juxtaposition of vaguely referential, symbolic, abstracted and ambiguous marks being pivotal.

The product of this approach becomes a self-contained entity having a concrete existence in the natural world but not defined by it or dependent upon an illusory construct of it, but possibly having oblique or allusive references to it.

He strives to construct a compositionally coherent, essentially self-referential image that resists absolute definition or rigidly literal interpretation, free from the prop of the visually perceived world 'out there' or of the 'deceit' of the figurative.

Nearing, 1963

George Taylor sees an inherent integrity in abstract art… through his visual world of ‘imagined spaces and specific places’ he explores how to communicate the complex.
He believes works of art essentially become objects, left to be encountered by others, and the power of abstraction is held in intensely felt forces, captured through art at a particular time and place.
ART BLOG asked Taylor what drives him to create, and what makes abstraction so compelling…
What drew you to abstraction?
My early training in art in the late 50s and early 60s involved drawing from life: pictorial composition, anatomy, colour analysis and the study of perspective…
It was a thorough traditional and academic grounding in the essential skills of perception and observation, none of which I regret.
However, I discovered very quickly that mere representation, even when undertaken skilfully and imaginatively, did not satisfy me.
I was inexorably attracted to what is popularly referred to as abstraction, or possibly more accurately, non-figuration.
Equinox, 1961

I made my first fully abstract painting in 1961 and in 1963 began making white, wall hung abstract constructions with Michael Baldwin, later of the influential conceptual art collaboration Art and Language.
A little later in that year, I met and got to know the internationally-known painter Sir Terry Frost RA, and began to develop further my strong interest in colour, form and, critically, with abstraction, pictorial space.
What, for you, is the chief satisfaction to be had in making abstract art?
The virtually boundless freedom and creative possibilities it affords, in that one is not restricted to the depiction of a subject, or at least, to something ‘represented’.
Freedom, though, implies responsibility as a corollary, and amongst other things, the making of abstract art requires rigour, insight and dedication.
Silent Motto

North Atlantic Odyssey

Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have heightened sensitivity for composition and for colour, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.
Wassily Kandinsky 1866 – 1944.

You have spoken of ‘the deceit of the figurative’… could you elaborate?
I don’t seek to criticise representational art, or to be controversial, and comparisons should not be an exercise in semantics.
Any attempt to reproduce an imitation of the objective world in paint, or any other medium, is arguably of the nature of a ‘deceit’ (the quotation marks are important) and the more skilfully this is done, then logically the more ‘deceitful’ it becomes.
George Taylor in his studio, Shipston

Therefore, what are regarded as the best or most successful figurative paintings are also the most ‘deceitful’.
This though, does not detract from the fact that they remain the best figurative paintings, and amongst the very best works of art ever made.
It is crucial to regard the word ‘deceit’ in relation to its opposite ‘honest’, or perhaps, ‘deceitfulness’, as opposed to ‘honesty’.
Thus, a representation of the objective world on a two-dimensional plane is by definition, a ‘deceit’, as the resulting image is not ‘of itself’, but purports to be a representation of something outside of itself; whereas a non-figurative or abstract work is essentially self-referential, and therefore innately more ‘honest’.
Spacetime

Obviously, there are degrees of representation and thus of abstraction, but it is only when all objective references are excluded, and a work relies entirely on the materials of its making, does the result become wholly abstract and non-referential, and is therefore, more intrinsically ‘honest’ by definition.

Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature.
Josef Albers 1888 – 1976

George Taylor, September 2017
Reference: RBSA Birmingham Art Gallery ART BLOG


Friday, 16 October 2015

George Taylor contributes to 'Frost, Family and Friends'

Royal Academy of Arts 'Six Decades'
Personalised by Sir Terry Frost
The Banbury Museum is currently holding an exhibition
'Frost, Family and Friends: 
A unique centenary celebration of Sir Terry Frost RA
'. 

Open from 26th September to 9th January 2016, this exhibition celebrates 100 years since Sir Terry's birth and shows his influential abstract paintings, including work influenced by his time in Banbury. Alongside these colourful works, are rarely seen paintings and artefacts on loan from his family and friends.
George Taylor has loaned various items for this exhibition and also appears in a film that is on show in the gallery.
Adrian Heath 'Terry Frost'
Personalised by Sir Terry Frost

In the very early sixties, George set up his own working studio in Bodicote, Banbury, from where he developed and created a body of abstract paintings, shown at the former Bear Lane Gallery at Oxford and Playhouse Theatre Gallery, also at Oxford until 1966.
A little later, in 1963 Sir Terry Frost RA moved to Banbury from St. Ives. The two met and George got to know Sir Terry well, visiting each others studios frequently, continuing contact until 2003. 

George recalls; "In 1963, for the first time, up the steps to the double fronted, red brick house at the top of Old Parr Road, traditional, and perhaps, a little austere, the exterior contrasting dramatically with the riot of colour within. Joyous, exuberant paintings just about everywhere, kids just about everywhere, and Kath in the kitchen orchestrating everything, including the liberal supplies of coffee in those hand thrown pottery mugs; on the landing, that big yellow triptych, and those little Alfred Wallis paintings on cardboard scraps that Terry cherished so much, on the mantelpiece."

"Later talking with him about the bold primary red, black, and yellow ‘abstracts’ on the painted narrow boats on the Oxford Canal, the wonderful, dynamic ‘faces’ of the lorries on the Oxford Road, the painting potential of the multiplicity of shapes and colours in the road signs in the town; particularly the circular ones, reflected so powerfully in colourful paintings such as ‘M17’, which Terry later described in his equally colourful language, as ‘a real snorter’."

Mel Gooding 'Terry Frost: Act & Image'
Personalised by Sir Terry Frost

George was awarded the Margaret Gardiner Prize for painting on the recommendation of Sir Terry in 1966. This accolade came about some time after Sir Terry had taken a collection of George's artwork to St. Ives for Margaret Gardiner to look at. George says of Terry "He was a big man with a giant of a personality, gregarious, passionate, and generous to a fault, layered and thoughtful, sensitive and insightful."

"I recall the time after he had moved from Banbury to Newlyn, of finding him, one hot summer’s day, in his studio, in his shorts and beret, struggling to pick up dozens of bits of paper and drawings that had dropped from a shelf onto the floor. I helped him with that, and a few minutes later he was enthusing about a pot of blue paint he had discovered and couldn’t wait to use, I said it reminded me of Klein blue and he agreed.

Later we spoke about pictorial depth, surface dynamics and relative colour values, he then placed a dab of thick white paint on a canvas and announced, ‘they like a bit of impasto too you know George’!, then, without saying a word, he went to a chest of drawers, took out an etching, signed and numbered it, wrapped it carefully in tissue paper and gave it to me.

Afterwards, we sat on the lawn, beneath that sweeping conifer tree that framed the view over Mount’s Bay with the Mount in the distance, drinking Mc Kewens lager direct from the can."

The etching with aquatint to the left 'Untitled (Newlyn) 1995' is on display at The Banbury Museum exhibition and was given to George Taylor personally by Sir Terry Frost. 

On another occasion in 2000, George recalls, "I particularly remember seeing Terry, in his distinctive red beret and coloured frame specs’, standing at the top of the staircase at the Royal Academy, at his retrospective there, hugging and greeting every guest individually 
Strangely, I can’t remember if he was wearing that same sweater on that day, the one he wore at his exhibition at the old Banbury Museum in 1995, that ‘trademark’ one, that had emblazoned on it, ‘Life is just a bowl of Cherries’........maybe, that says it all really."

Sir Terry Frost started painting briefly at evening classes before serving his Country during World War II. After joining the commandos, he was captured during the invasion of Crete and held a prisoner of war. During this time, he learned his art from British painter Adrian Heath. After the war ended Sir Terry studied at Camberwell School of Art and St. Ives School of Art. He lead the way in abstract art with his bold use of colour and distinctive shapes. In 1992, he was elected a Royal Academician and knighted in 2000.
Sir Terry Frost died in 2003, aged 87, near his home in Newlyn, Cornwall.
Visit The Banbury Museum to see George Taylor's contributions at the 'Frost, Family and Friends' exhibition. 

Banbury Museum, Spiceball Park Road, Banbury, OX16 2PQ
Telephone: 01295 753752

Website: Banbury Museum

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

...and THIS is why I love Artweeks!

George Taylor

Amidst a sea rolling with giant waves it’s easy to become disorientated, and faced with the Oxfordshire Artweeks guide it’s similarly tricky to orientate yourself. You’re desperate to dive in the enticing waters, but you’re not sure what kind of an experience you’re going to encounter, as the offer is simply overwhelming.

How to find the needles in the haystacks? Separate the wheat from the chaff? Find those diamonds in the rough? Sometimes I think you’ve just got to dive in and hope for the best.

I hadn’t been to Charlbury until last week. What a charming place it is. Bigger than I’d anticipated; and, that Friday, full to the rafters of Artweeks activities and guide grasping gad-abouts, hubby, off-spring and I included. In and around Charlbury we saw some good art, some ‘fun’ art, some inoffensive living-room ‘art’, some garden art… and at venue 161 we saw some stunning art. 


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Venue 161 offered everything one really wants in an Artweeks venue. A ‘Through the Keyhole’ style insight into who lives in a house like this. Turns out two artists who’ve recently relocated back to the Cotswolds from the Isle of Wight do. They were both exhibiting in different parts of their house, and exhibiting in the glass house in their back garden, which was once home to a hot tub, was the nephew of one of the artists. The artists’ work was unrelated, the welcome was warm, the exchange was fun, and the art was interesting… In a really good way. Practicing artists, at different stages in their developing careers, working through their concepts, and happy to chat to curious visitors about their processes and inspiration. The artists I’m referring to were George TaylorJanice Thwaites, and Tim Collard – click through to their websites, and return to check their work out as part of the Oxfordshire Artweeks Christmas exhibition in November (there’ll be more info on the Artweeks website in due course), or get in touch with George Taylor through his website as he offers private studio visits by prior arrangement.


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Anyway, the work… it was all good, and all interesting, but George Taylor’s was exceptional (see the below images). You know that slap on the forehead between the eyes sensation? That shock encounter of something really quite special that takes you by surprise because you weren’t actively looking for it? That. I sneaked up on George, he was sat at his computer with his back to the exhibition space. This gave me time to roam, inspect and admire his work without that feeling of being ‘watched by the artist’, which is sometimes a bit uncomfortable, particularly if the work’s rubbish and you spend your time circulating trying to think of positive feedback that doesn’t leave you feeling like a liar. Anyway, as I circulated in his direction I found myself moved to exclaim just how much I was enjoying his work. The layers, the textures, the composition, the application of paint and pastels, the scrapes, the scratches, the scalpel cutting away and revealing unexpected colour combinations – bloody brilliant! All works imbued with a very specific sense of place. Waves and washes of atmosphere, abstracted landscapes and seascapes all with a very real sense of history and time. Many of them watery and Isle of Wight-esque, Taylor’s work is sensational, in the literal sense of the word. These sculptural, almost architectural, paintings take the viewer on a journey, they’re mesmeric, captivating. This is highly idiosyncratic, great painting. It’s the kind of work that you want to invest in, and that you want to invest time in. I can imagine discovering new aspects of it as it grows older with you – like an adventure that you and the painting would embark upon together. I could go on, I could definitely invest, and may very well do just that come November, and THIS is why I love Artweeks!
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Original post: http://sarahmayhewcraddock.com/2014/05/23/and-this-is-why-i-love-artweeks/

Spaces of Invention and Places of Imagination

Occupying both Galleries 1 and 2 at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery, is a major exhibition of selected, mixed media works from the year 2000 to the present by the artist George Taylor who I have admired for a long time. The exhibition entitled, Spaces of Invention and Places of Imagination, will include two paintings from 1961 and 1963, completed just after the outset of George’s career which now spans more than 54 years.
George.Taylor-Wild Sea Rising
George Taylor, Wild Sea Rising.
George Taylor’s long development as an artist has come from a constant belief in painting in his own search for a visual language, which through his integrity and commitment towards abstraction has resulted in a body of work which may be considered as equivalent, not necessarily for a specific physical landscape feature so much as an allusion to an unseen, but intensely felt force in nature at a particular time and place.
The Air’s Buoyancy and the Sun’s Rays by George Taylor
George Taylor, The Air’s Buoyancy and the Sun’s Rays.
There is for George an optimistic belief in the nature of creativity experienced through the dynamics of risk-taking in visual terms. He explores the potential within the paradoxical nature of a space between certainty and doubt. It is the very nature of this dynamic that continues to inform his art and provide the fundamental principles underlying his purpose as an artist.
Firebird by George Taylor
George Taylor, Firebird.
George Taylor says of his work: “for over 45 years I have sought to explore the mysteriousness of living through painting. So far as I can see, it is the magic of mystery that creates great art and art without that magic is lifeless.”


George Taylor RBSA exhibition

Exhibition image


George Taylor at RBSA

George Taylor at the RBSA

George Taylor's RBSA Solo Exhibition

Floater by George Taylor
Floater by George Taylor

“For over 50 years I have sought to explore the mysteriousness of living through painting,” says contemporary artist George Taylor. “So as far as I can see, it is the magic of mystery that creates great art and art without that magic is lifeless.”
For 54 years Taylor has sought to create a visual language that conveys a world of places both real and imaginary, both physical and not. From this, his development as an artist has stemmed and blossomed to be exemplified at his solo exhibition, which opened on July 1st.
The exhibition will be open until the 13th of July and is being held at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. The pieces being shown are of mixed media and the time of their completion ranges from the year 2000 to the present, an especially prolific period in Taylor’s career.

His work is so uniquely alive, as it possesses gestural qualities but provides a more polished result. It is rough but deliberate. His use of fragments and demonstration of only moments of a form is somewhat poetic. He appears to apply guidelines to lead the viewer to a specific idea or intention, however, the path is not completely clear. Certain aspects are left open to viewer interpretation, which leaves the promising success of Taylor’s exhibition in the hands of his audience.
Electra by George Taylor
Electra by George Taylor

Original Blog post by Madison Crube 

George Taylor website