Text by Lesley Guy
The work on show follows a residency of two weeks, or thereabouts. Richard Taylor has used discarded materials and objects from around Mexico Project Space as well as the people at hand to create two distinct installations.
The first part of the show is an economical arrangement of sculptural collage, scattered but square. The objects are set in place and invite you to move in around the space and investigate.
The projection on the small shallow box or tray is a delight of golden warmth like a Werther’s Original and the mirrors placed around to provide new views pull you in a little further as those new views are not necessarily easy to find.
Exhibitions like this are not always easy to read. It takes a while to bring the different elements together in your head, but here handmade objects helped me feel the presence of the artist. These are the boney looking squished white clay forms, a biro drawing, small photograph placed under glass and a printed page of text that appears to be broken in half on the far wall.
Around the corner is hanging strip light, a scrap of tinfoil on the wall and a semi scrunched up paper bag resting on the floor. Something has changed. Not everyone has patience with work that relies on found items like this. I agree it can feel mute and at worst looks lazy but I find value in the bricolage of found and manipulated items.
Materially, there are some great touches, the obvious example being the scrunched up insulating foil poised like interplanetary explosions gently turning in the warm air and catching the light, or the small, strangely painted white clay balls.
The overall effect is a bit confusing though. Is it meant to look like it all tumbled out of the empty casing of the chest of drawers, or that someone arranged it just so? Where do these objects come from? What is this stuff DOING?
There are domestic collisions all over the room, between furniture and an unseen arranger – the artist. It looks like the personality of the show has broken down and the artist has regressed beyond reach.
The first room resonated with a subtle interaction between the artist, curators and, ultimately, the viewer. The second room is more difficult to read. Within both rooms are elements of exquisite beauty and extreme banality. However, the sense of curiosity inspired by the first room soon becomes frustration in the second half (Font) that could easily push a viewer over into indifference.
You could call this work esoteric, there are stories behind some of it that are not revealed – and I only know this because I asked. But it could be these back-stories that are giving me problems. I was really getting into the piece with the gloves and out-of-sync clocks (Dogs or Kids) until I was told the story behind it.
I wanted to enjoy Taylor’s objects for what they are in themselves, not what they represent, and the problem isn’t just that there isn’t enough ‘thing-ness’ in the second room for me to enjoy, I just couldn’t find a way in on my own terms.
Unsurprisingly, projects like this don’t get shown in large public spaces, but this is why artist-led projects like Mexico are so important because this is where artists can experiment with new processes and ideas and develop a new body of work without worrying if anyone is actually going to get it – and I always admire that.
Richard Taylor: COLLIDER is on display at Mexico Project Space, Leeds until 26 July 2013.