Murmurs is a solo presentation of new works by Tāmaki Makaurau based artist Imogen Taylor. Teasing out the push and pull of abstraction and figuration, Taylor conjures enduring forms as part of a sensual approach to painting. With brightening hues she investigates intimate relationships with bodies, both human and non-human, as well as communication and what might exceed it.
Murmurs are words barely heard, all vibration and hot breath in an ear. Partially understood, they point to unfolding processes of comprehension, slowly dawning … what is said and un-said. Visual equivalents might be ways of starting to see shapes, things, figures as they appear in a painting: a cat daintily drinks from her bowl; a chestnut horse twitches its tail back and forth by its broad side-flank; flautists embrace whilst still entangled with their instruments. A pair of lovers cling together like limpets, their curvaceous thighs and calves crook back like chicken drumsticks beneath bedcovers. The nape of a woman’s neck becomes a copse of tall trees and bong-smoke billows in a bedroom scene. There is a serenity about the face of a tool as it hammers a nail and a sensual power to the warm-worn patina of a leather riding-saddle. An omnipotent deity holds our world in the palm of one hand and clutches its satellite, a moon-pearl between two fingers.
Hot colours predominate, there is burgundy, tan, maroon, rust, red, orange-red, dark brown, even puce. Taylor’s palette in this new suite of works betrays the influence of Amercan modernist painters and their approaches to depicting land, Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico or the California of Agnes Pelton, for example. Curious ways of seeing are inflected by various painted surfaces, there is calico, linen, canvas and hessian. Acrylic, sometimes combined with ink or pastel, has been applied in order to create warm, generous, curvilinear and cleverly composed forms. A practice of drawing as well as a co-opting of objects from around the artist’s studio have been employed in order to construct each image. Things are technically constructed, they come together, but only just. On the cusp of falling apart, at any moment they may participate in a processes of flux, before re-joining anew in different configurations. Although each form is perfectly composed within the frame of the painting, they are also cunningly cropped, as though there is the potential for them to exceed the picture plane.
Pleasure and enjoyment are central to this body of work. A sense of fluidity and languour is evoked by the swooping and waved forms. Figuring singularities are captured and held on surfaces uneven and smooth in bold and vibrant hues, producing a delicious sense of eroticism.