Christian Larsen is pleased to present A spicy migraine grease, Ross Taylor’s (b. 1982, London, UK) debut solo exhibition with the gallery. Taylor graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 2008 and in 2016 was awarded the Abbey Scholarship in painting at the prestigious British School at Rome, Italy. In A spicy migraine grease Taylor presents a new series of large and small-scale paintings and drawings that, through both philosophical enquiry and material investigation, are concerned with the several invented symbolic elements of the artists own studio (as well as its historical and geographical location in Angel, North London) and his increased interest in the mechanics of consciousness and hypnagogic dreaming.
Taylor’s rich and varied visual vocabulary imbues his paintings with the allusion to another space, shifting illusively between known and unknowns, dreams and reality, abstract forms and flickers of recognisable beings. The painted surface is used as a platform on which the artist’s in-built ‘fictions’ and new myths intermingle, morph, and collide. By scraping, scratching, staining, cutting and collaging, Taylor cultivates an almost obsessive layering of trace and mark with each painting proudly displaying the scars of their own making. Within the paintings presented in the exhibition, each mark acts as a disturbance, far more concerned with the flux of becoming rather than of merely being. Taylor’s process draws on a rich chain of art-historical precedents, from prehistoric parietal art and medieval graffiti through to Edwardian clairvoyant illustrations and the auto portraits of Antonin Artaud. Each impression on the canvas creates an aura that suggests that these paintings have come from another space or time entirely and exist in their own imagined, alternative reality.
Each surface develops over many months of working and re-working. Canvas and paper are examined, folded and stored in the studio, sometimes for many months or years, allowing crinkles and creases to develop, etching a history and life into the fabric of the work before a mark is even laid down. Taylor’s process of gradual layering of mark and colour display a concern with a language that is non-specific, a kind of poetry where only condensations appear on the surface, attempting to model thoughts and ideas that seem to be impossible in a physical realm. Small gestures gradually evolve into larger ones and are repeatedly beaten back until an indexical and non-descriptive logic begins to take over. One painting’s pigment is scraped and applied to another, creating a cannibalistic painting process where every painting that Taylor makes, either past, present or future, is immediately connected to another, with the meaning of each only becoming clear when passing within view of the rest.
Taylor’s exhibition and work titles are somewhat colloquial in nature and reflect the surroundings of his North London home. Taking snippets of overheard conversations and recording these in his notebook, each title or phrase is then lifted and used when it seems to best fit. Although these can seem almost absurd in nature, each one anchors Taylor’s imagined world firmly in the present creating a carefully balanced play between fiction and reality. By using words, terms and biographies to help explain ideas about how and what he is making, each painting becomes a response to its title. Within the contemplation of the paintings surface, each idea, word or moment running through the artist’s mind has space to expand and intensify. Recently Taylor has been developing his own short fictions that assume an equal and active place within the exhibition, acting as a kind of prologue or ‘atmosphere’ that prepare the audience for the works they are about to encounter. Taylor has created a new short fiction to accompany this exhibition.