"I use everything I studied up to this point as fodder for imagery,” Sean Taylor says about his show, “Sean Taylor Owes Me Money.” The exhibit currently at hte Ghostprint Gallery is part of a series examining specific times in the artist's life and the locations they connect. Here, we witness the extended relationship Taylor has with Richmond. “Last time I was here I was pawning my guitar on Broad Street,” he says.
Taylor, a man well versed in all matters of Reagan-era foreign policy and satirical literary fiction, has assembled a collection of paintings that appear like memories you've forgotten to remember, and now it's too late to question their truth. He paints on constructed wooden panels with oil and mixed media. The works vary in scale from small collage to life-size figure paintings. He assembles them into a compartmental experience that offers contrasting scenes, not just for their grandeur or visual delight, but also for their metaphoric impact.
Taylor's glimpse into a selective past allows the viewer a chance opportunity, like finding a box of Polaroids that have been left abandoned on the sidewalk during a storm. The viewer searches through the thread of pinks and Cold War images — as the scenes change the overall feelings begin to combine. “The color palette is what keeps it all from teetering off into a depressing montage” Taylor says of his use of soft pastels. “The show has a Vonnegut style of humor and plays into the whole money excess of today. I then began to look at my own excess of the '80s, like that Sean Taylor actually owes me money, too.”
Taylor's wry humor carries over to an instructional series in the show as well. “They are absurd instructions for life, like a juxtaposition of my romantic ideal of life, of what my life would like to be — like just to be a painter and paint — but then the reality comes up of having to install a faucet or a ceiling fan.”
Taylor didn't begin to paint until his mid-30s, when he found himself with a degree in sociology and history, escaping Richmond under dark circumstances and camping out on his brother's couch in Philadelphia. He decided to take painting classes, and found that painting allowed him the journalistic and artistic license to document history as well as present the present in a form of unified subjectivity.
“Overall I want it to be beautiful,” he says. “The narrative is secondary. I just like beauty. I have a somewhat slanted view of life and I just incorporate the cotton-candy color.” S
“Sean Taylor Owes Me Money” is on display until Oct. 31 at Ghostprint Gallery, 220 E. Broad St. For information call 344-1557 or visit www.ghostprintgallery.com.