WPA Presents Henry Taylor : Couch Paintings

WPA presents an exhibition from Henry Taylor, Couch Paintings. Open now through October 30.

The couch is the most comfortable seat in Henry Taylor’s home. His new exhibition, The Couch Paintings, is a collection of recent acrylic on canvas portraits unified by the common theme of Taylor’s couch. It is no coincidence that he has merged his working and living space. As Taylor states, “My home is my studio and my studio, of course is my home. Most of the time I’m alone there working and sometimes I receive visitors and these visitors become subjects.” This body of work continues Taylor’s commitment to community as subject matter. Taylor’s lifeblood is his community. Home, neighborhood, storytelling, memorialization are paramount to him. The checkout person at the local market, friends, family, artists, homeless people, and even an art curator are subjects in this new body of work. Taylor treats them all equally and refuses hierarchical structures that others accept or impose.

Not only does the couch serve as a metaphor for his commitment to community but it also allows for an explorative site into contemporary painting issues. Craftsmanship and capturing likeness, in a more conventional sense, are skewed in these new paintings. In many of the works both the couch and the figures become stand-ins for volume, or simultaneously another image. For instance, in one painting a black man wearing a green party shirt becomes a stand in for a mountain. The couch, at times, doubles as a landscape. It is in the fabric and form of the couch where Taylor’s skill as a painter reveals itself. The serial process of creating the successive representations of a singular form reveals his love of painterly experimentation. Taylor explains that, “Sometimes my style is a surprise to me. I am never able to anticipate what any one painting will look like in the end, it may have abstract elements, or it simply may have something totally missing like an arm or an leg which can be the result of any sort of abuse.” Unexpected color combinations and confident mark carve out evocative spaces. The paintings transform portraits of friends and family into emotive studies perhaps more revealing of the artist than his subjects.

Taylor refuses traditional standards of beauty and the western Eurocentric use of the gaze in art. “Everybody just looks lovely when you start painting them. I don’t know what ugly is. We are all carnal, but for the most part, when you get beyond the carnal, everybody is fuckin’ beautiful.”

Image: Henry Taylor, Couch Paintings, WPA

Gallery hours: Open 12-6pm, Thursday – Saturday or by appointment.

WPA 510 Bernard Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 +1 213-290-5632


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