UB art exhibit features Buffalo-born artist Rodney Taylor

Paintings experiment with natural textures, human form

The Spectrum

At 19 years old, Rodney Taylor left for New York City with three suitcases and $150.

He had a dream of becoming an artist and felt that if he stayed in the City of Buffalo, he wouldn't be able to chase it down.

"I couldn't imagine not doing art," Taylor said. "I couldn't be stuck in Buffalo; I had to go and pursue my dream. I'm lucky to be able to do something I love."

"Impure Abstraction," a survey exhibition of Taylor's two-decade-long painting career is on display at the UB Art Gallery in the Center For the Arts until May 10.

Taylor returned to Buffalo more than 20 years ago, and he now lives here with his wife and three children. His wife is an artist of a different sort: an actress. They're pursuing their artistic aspirations together while raising three kids. The entire family came to support Taylor's exhibition and was thrilled to see his work on display.

The exhibition opened Feb. 27. The gallery was open to the community, so art fans of all ages came to visit the exhibit and speak to the artist.

Destiny Rosales, a sophomore sociology major, said she was curious to see the artist's work as well as the others that were featured in the gallery.

"It was interesting to see all of these pieces, and even more so that the artists are here to present their work," Rosales said. "There's a lot of different things going on, and it's nice that students can just come in and see it whenever they want."

Taylor's art consists of paintings, typically utilizing flash, clay and water on paper or canvas. He uses these materials, especially the clay, to create a cracking effect - the type one would see in a desert or a well-worn sidewalk.

"Because of the patterns, there are things that I expect to be three-dimensional and they just aren't," said Chris Weinart, a Buffalo resident and fan of Taylor's art. "It's the most interesting thing [about his work]."

The collection includes paintings from the mid-1990s to the present and has a few works from other series including "Black and White," "White with Color," "Middle Passage" and "Hero."

"Hero" displays Taylor's love of comics and features the likes of Superman and The Incredible Hulk.

The use of bright colors and comic-style blocking within the piece creates a comic book effect, as if the painting were ripped right out of an issue.

"I love comic books; I have thousands of them," Taylor said. "I kept them under my bed until I ran out of room, then I would hide them in the cabinet under the steps. I've finally brought them back to my own house -my mother was happy about that."

Taylor keeps it simple. The lack of complexity is intended to tell a message in itself, yet leaves much of the interpretation up to the viewer. He uses a few brush strokes to get his point across and keeps much of the paper or canvas bare.

Works from the "Middle Passage" series are heavily clay-based and focus on bodies, many without certain appendages.

The pieces focus on basic elements of the human body, and when multiple people are present, they all look very similar, with only the simplest features. The simplicity is intended to demonstrate human struggle in its most raw form.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com