The devil-may-care spirit

Henry Taylor, “My Brother Gene the former ‘Tunnel Rat,’ acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60”
Henry Taylor, “Jesse Owens in �36,” 2010, acrylic on canvas, 87.5 x 77″
 Installation view.

Nana Asfour walked into Rental and found artist Henry Taylor perched on a crate, hard at work, boom box at his side, belting out soul music, and adding the final touches to one of his large paintings. “The sight was as jolting as it was refreshing, yet the devil-may-care spirit with which Taylor pursued his task, as visitors perused his art, is befitting of a gallery that champions intrepidness,” Asfour reports in Time Out New York. “Taylor makes paint-laden and purposefully ham-handed figurative works that belie their effortless technique. His portraits, rendered in acrylic swaths and impastos, pay reverent homage to his African-American heritage. The subjects range from athletes to intellectuals to everyday working joes; many of them are seen sitting against monochromatic backgrounds. At first, the paintings and the nearby installations about modern child-slavery and colonialism manifest a stark heavy-handedness. But the works unexpectedly gain dynamism with each subsequent viewing. Meanwhile, Phil Wagner�s swashbuckling assemblages hit the ground running….”

“Henry Taylor/Phil Wagner,” Rental Gallery, New York, NY. Through March 28.

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