In Ken Taylor’s “Mountains and Roses” solo exhibition, on view now through April 10 at Simchowitz Gallery, visions of roses, mountains, and sombreros from memory and dream fill the space.
A path ahead littered with white sombreros leads to a range of mountains on the horizon in Los caminos de la vida (2019). Peaks bathed in the light of an orange sunset are punctuated by three floating sombreros in Sombreros and Red Montañas I (2021). A stalk of pale, blush roses against a sky at dusk in Neon mushrooms and roses (2020).
Whitewall heard from the artist about his new paintings and ceramic works inaugurating the new gallery in Los Angeles.
WHITEWALL: What was the starting point for the exhibition, “Mountains and Roses”?
KEN TAYLOR: When you go up the mountain and see the roses, take a left.
WW: For you, what kind of feelings do mountain landscapes and roses evoke?
KT: The smell spring and the viewer's freedom.
WW: Are these landscapes of memory, of your imagination?
KT: My imagination is my memory and my memory, is my imagination.
WW: What does the image of the sombrero represent for you?
KT: It represents utility and shelter from the elements..
WW: Can you tell us about the ceramic sombreros included in the show?
KT: I use a specific drying process that creates the shape. Then I paint them individually with colors and patterns influenced from my Mexican heritage.
WW: For the paintings of roses, how did you arrive at the unique shape of the canvas?
KT: By accident. I had the stretcher bars in the studio while I was painting flowers. They started to look like vessels to me. I thought painting the flowers on the shaped canvas could give an interesting perspective.
WW: Can you tell us about your painting process?
KT: I like to keep things intuitive. I normally start with an action. I let that action start a dialogue between line, color, shape. As everything builds in layers, I work with the paint until it has dried. I always play music that I can dance to while I'm painting.
WW: Can you tell us about your studio? What is a typical day like for you there?
KT: My studio is in a garage in Altadena. You'd have to come by to find out.