Al Taylor’s work sits at a unique intersection of material fascination and object politics. Combining the familiar materials of modern construction and design, Taylor’s work often investigated the pairings and interrelations of objects formed not only by the human’s aesthetic agenda, but equally by the complementary formal designs of the materials themselves. These intersections can be seen in quite stark execution currently at David Zwirner, where the gallery’s 20th Street location is currently presenting a body of work created 1989 and 1997.
Working between drawing, sculpture and material assemblage, Taylor’s work here seems to move in and out of self-awareness: finished sculptures are paired with drawings depicting them, creating a peculiar rupture in time where the viewer must struggle to determine which piece came first. Taylor may have been working from a particular drawing when he executed the physical, sculptural object, or rather, the drawings could in fact be a documentation of sorts.
In each, the work is reputedly driven by a fascination with pet waste, with the idea of elevating, isolating and re-contextualizing the puddles of urine or piles of dog waste that sit out on the street. In these objects, the artist presents physical structures that capture and present the fluid dynamics as the work itself, with the physical structures surrounding them bound up in the process. To Taylor, the method of display, of presentation and exhibition, becomes an essential aspect of his project, recasting his works not only as a study towards a particular subject, but the methods of arriving at that point.
The show also includes a series of Taylor’s works from 1997, included originally in an exhibition titled Full Gospel Neckless, which take the artist’s interest in the raw materials available to him and apply them towards a fluid series of interactions and inversions. Taking the circular form of his materials, Taylor investigates the interactions between a series of circular objects, and seeks to understand how the objects’ shared form dictate their arrangements, execution and display. In one particularly striking work, Taylor piles a series of tubes into the corner, creating a pyramid structure. It’s one of the few moments in the exhibition that the objects are able to escape an immediate association with their rounded edges and surfaces, and illustrates the degree of energy expended to at least partially liberate a form from its original moorings.
It’s just this sense of formal preoccupation that makes Taylor’s work here worth further investigation. Rather than merely present the forms of modern material composition as they stand, Taylor pushes the object further into dialogue with its use and essential nature, seeking a space where the object may transform the space around it, or fold back in on its own inherent nature.
Pet Stains, Puddles, and Full Gospel Neckless is on view through February 14th.
— D. Creahan
Al Taylor at David Zwirner [David Zwirner]