When Richard Taylor scrawls mathematical equations across a canvas, as he does in his 2019 piece “Schwarzschild and all that,” or invokes a German physicist and astronomer in the title, it’s not some form of intellectual posing, an aesthete veering sharply out of his lane. The Salt Lake City artist has graduate degrees in Physics (M.S., Brigham Young University) and Materials Science (Ph.D., Duke), has worked as a researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and has lectured on quantum mechanics, physical symmetry, and materials properties at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Most recently, Taylor’s interest in materials has focused on the properties of oil paint, spread on canvas, and its capacity to express emotions. “I explore form, color, and material as the phonemes of a reductionist language of emotional expression,” Taylor says of his work.
His influences are strongly rooted in mid-century American art. “A chorus of voices joins me when I paint: Frankenthaler’s and the Washington School artists’ work on color, de Kooning’s and Serra’s work on form, Guston’s social commentary and emotional charge; the writing of Clement Greenberg, Richard Serra, and so forth are deep conceptual wells to build on, modify, distort, and transform.
But there is one voice that for me has been louder than the rest: de Kooning is the artist that consistently brings me to tears. His gestural approach is at once spontaneous and contemplative. Maybe it’s the confluence of chaos and intention in his work that deeply reflects the human condition. I love his work the same way I love sleeping in the desert or walking alone in the woods.”
Taylor’s work can be viewed at Meyer Gallery in Park City and online at http://instagram.com/richardtaylorart. In November of this year Bountiful Davis Art Center will host an exhibition of his work.
During the month of February we ask Utah artists about a specific piece of art or artist, living or not, local or global, that has sparked their curiosity or influenced their work. We run their responses throughout the month.