Long Island City, MoMA PS1, Henry Taylor, January - April 2012, p. 72, illustrated in colour
Demonstrating both a shrewd critical eye and a delicate sensibility, Taylor’s art betrays a wide range of influences and an enigmatic, evasive manner. Shown in his March 2011 exhibition at the Los Angeles Blum & Poe Gallery, See Alice Jump (2011) depicts the first African-American Olympic Gold medal winner Alice Coachman as she vaults a hurdle against a crisp, cerulean sky. In the same exhibition, the portrait Noah (2011) portrays a young boy – a relative of the artist’s – in a style redolent of Henri Matisse. If comparisons are most commonly made between Taylor and Kerry James Marshall – who are, of course, of a similar age – Taylor’s clear preoccupation with the notion of community aligns him to greater extent with Mark Bradford. In a recent video made for W Magazine and The New York Times, Taylor comments that his “influences vary… of course you reflect, and you get nostalgic, and you go back into your past, to your Dad and Mom”. At one point in this video, Taylor shows us a found advertisement, aimed at African American men, for a barbershop on which Taylor has painted the iconic barber’s pole of red, white and blue. Recalling Bradford’s work on the logos of collective Black identity, this moment evinces Bradford and Taylor's shared awareness of sites – including the barbershop – of solidarity, exchange and wisdom in the Californian African-American community. Such spaces have historically served as points of refuge against externally imposed working-conditions, which are metonymised in the present work by the ignored C&H logo.
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