Kevin E. Taylor : Homo Sapiens and Buffalo
August 21st, 2011 by Maria Anderson
Kevin Earl Taylor was born in Charleston, South Carolina and is now based out of San Francisco, California. He got his B.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and his work has been exhibited throughout the US and internationally. Though primarily an oil painter, he also does some work with sound and video. Taylor started painting on paper and mounting his drawings on plywood, which garnered him a following in Charleston. Now he draws all day at work, from 9 to 5, and takes his inspiration from the city’s music and art scene.
Taylor’s works communicate a belief that animals and humans are inextricably linked. The eyes of the animals and the color and care with which they are painted really nice. Some make eye contact with the viewer, while others seem to be looking at nothing at all. The paintings seem to by symbolic of the kind of unseen interaction between animals that seemingly never come into contact, despite being linked on some deeper biological level. There is a natural solemnity of the beasts together. Droll monkeys, a rhino with wrinkled pursed lips like an old man’s. The oddly intelligent gaze of an octopus.
At times the images remind me of something you’d see in an illustrated book of wildlife, the type that show you how to differentiate between different bird species and explain what they eat and where they live. Taylor’s animals call forth a notion of reference, of factual biological life and its true intertwinings with human beings. Some paintings contain human representations as well, such as the ones below of stone who seem to be worshipping the bear in some way. The setting is isolated tundra, which grants an ancient, time-worn feel to the natural world.
Other paintings are a little more unsettling, where the worship turns almost sacrificial. There is death in these images, with the masks .The way the animals are being carried, an ass and a cow with wings, looks like how Native Americans would carry their meat back to camp after a hunt, or their belongings in a move. The picture below seems symbolic of revolution, with the nude ape followed by the robed person behind him. I’m not sure what this could mean, but I like it.
In other of his paintings, the sad fact of development shows with animals propped up on scaffolding. Here there is a biblical-looking figure again, looking up with the animals at the shark. Humans are in the same boat as animals in this case. By that I mean that we are both witnesses of to the state of the natural world, the extinction and erasure, eroding ecosystems, polluted skies and water. There is a sad beauty in the destruction of things, in suffering. Taylor seems to be saying that animals and humans are not so different as we think, that there are stranger sorts of links between us that escape the everyday conception of our relationships with animals.
Images courtesy of the artist.
For more information, visit Taylor’s website.