Michael Taylor is an artist living and working in Cape Town. A master of many trades, he works predominantly in painting and drawing. Absorbing ideas from illustrative and abstract representation, Taylor works to sum up a story through a single painting/illustration, likening the narrative quality of his work to that of short fiction.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a fairly uncomplicated guy who makes pictures for my own, and other people’s, enjoyment. I have a preference for short stories, collect wrist watches, and don’t drink coffee.
What role did art, and creativity, play in your upbringing?
I think it ultimately helped me understand people and the world around me better. It’s my way of thinking things through or questioning people’s behaviour. I’ve always counted pictures as a kind of friend.
You attended Stellenbosch University where you completed your Master’s Degree in Visual Art. What did you do after that?
I started lecturing during my post graduate studies, and have been teaching ever since. Somewhere along the lines I also became part of the art world.
What are some of the things that influence your work?
Currently my work is influenced by the idea of selfhood, misrepresentations, possible eccentricities, and what it means to imagine something. Music that tells stories and my Pinterest boards also sometimes trigger ideas.
What is it that appeals to you about the mediums of painting and drawing?
The immediacy, spontaneity, and also the unforgiving nature of water based mediums (which I tend to work with) makes drawing and painting all the more attractive to me.
Tell us more about your process and approach…
I very seldom make preparatory sketches for final works. Whatever marks or ambiguous shapes happen on the paper or hardboard will eventually give way to the image. Actually that’s not always the case – in the past I used to jump into the shower with my paintings to wash off areas that didn’t work (water based mediums, like I said.)
Which do you find the most rewarding – the process or the final artwork?
Both are rewarding at the moments when they mean something. The process can sometimes be frustrating – which keeps you going at it, keeps you making things – and the final product leaves you with the satisfaction that you’ve told a story or taken someone to a place of your imagination.
How has your work developed since you started making art?
I don’t find the work as deliberately satirical as it used to be. And the pictures take on different guises more easily – abstract, exaggerated, and then dead pan right after each other.
Describe your ideal environment for creating…
If not at home, then close to home. Non-stop music playing. Access to tea. Somewhere to take a nap is never a bad thing either.
When you’re not making art, what are some of the other things you spend your time doing?
I enjoy entertaining friends at my place, making food. Serving martinis. And I’m a sucker for good music and dancing.
What are you working on currently?
New works on paper for Joburg Art Fair and an upcoming solo show early 2014.
To view more of his works, visit Michael’s website: www.michaeltaylor.co.za
Michael also creates an electronic flipbook/screenzine called The Book of Immediate Nonsense which he describes as “ridiculous, yet unassuming, and off-beat stories about life and death, outlandish characters, contemporary fables, natural disasters, modern behaviour, and visual discovery.” – www.immediatenonsense.blogspot.com