We’re no strangers to Michael Taylor’s penchant for the seas, which has yet again provided the perfect backdrop for him to unleash a host of his fantastically imagined characters for a solo exhibition at Whatiftheworld: I Was Born Yesterday. The body of work follows the happenings (and mis-happenings) of stereotyped gentlemen tribes who come together in a spectacular staged race.
“I’ve always counted pictures as a kind of friend,” says Taylor, whose work investigates what it means to imagine something. His interpretations are shaped through a keen interest in the idea of selfhood, possible eccentricities, unconventional perspectives, exaggeration and awkward expression. Ultimately, he paints to understand people and the world around him better.
I Was Born Yesterday is presented in a series of large-scale drawings and installations of paintings – mediums which the Cape Town-based artist enjoys for their immediacy and spontaneity. The preliminary sketches that eventually gave way to each final image pervade the surface as visible traces of movement. The movement of men who, appearing theatrically in a colourful tableaux, are spread out in scenes of “nonsense rituals, uncomfortable teaming, unseemly gestures and small misadventures”. Caught in live action like this they come across as confident, youthful and eager, but their portraits indicate otherwise. In these we see Mr. June (Bartholomew), Mr. March (James the great) and so forth in another light: feature-less, devoid of certainty and described only by their shadows and ill-colouring. Seen together, the entire collection of work is an “eccentric romp, fictionalising a battle of the male egos and parodying masculine attitudes”.
I Was Born Yesterday opens at Whatiftheworld gallery today (3 September) and runs until 3 October.
Read an interview with Michael Taylor.