Luhring Augustine is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent paintings by Philip Taaffe, which opens on November 12 in our Tribeca location. The presentation of new work will feature intimate kaleidoscopic panels realized in monotype and collage, and rooted in a process recently developed by the artist. Expanding on Taaffe's celebrated ability to build complex compositions, the paintings cull from a wide variety of sources, from illuminated manuscripts to historical natural science materials.
Each of the new paintings contains unique layers of imagery that share a consistent methodological starting point. As the world withdrew into isolation in 2020, Taaffe embarked upon a deeper investigation of certain graphic experiments he has been exploring perennially, but now with a more intensive focus. Over the last two years, Taaffe has engaged with a monotype process using lithographic ink on plate glass, which he has termed “litho-scraping”. Litho-scraping is an expressive manner of cutting into and manipulating viscous colored inks with various instruments across the surface of the glass. The inherent thixotropy of the inks allows a range of marks, from rigid graphic impasto, to supple transparent washes. The image is retrieved through burnishing the backside of a sheet of gampi paper that has been carefully positioned onto the wet ink on the glass. These impressions, which are then multiplied and refracted through a process of inkjet printing, have been employed as the foundation for most of the new works.
In this body of work, Taaffe looked to sources in ancient Greek mythology and philosophy as inspiration. Nepenthe is one such classical reference, a fictional medicine described as promoting the forgetfulness of sorrow. The paintings suggest the alluring and complex nature of Nepenthe through their framework of vivid sectioning, that works to create an optical experience in which levels of consciousness coalesce under our gaze. Drawing from the landscape outside his studio, Taaffe employs images of birds, predatory insects, and amphibians to reinforce the curative harmony of the natural world. The transfixing paintings in this exhibition offer an access point to a hidden realm of images that allows viewers to enter multi-faceted worlds within worlds. Not only does each composition offer passage to new domains, presenting the works together provides a means of experiencing the shared sensibility between them.
Philip Taaffe’s (b. Elizabeth, NJ, 1955) work is in numerous important collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Selected solo exhibitions include Philip Taaffe, Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia, Spain (2000); Carte annuvolate, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea della Repubblica di San Marino (2004); Philip Taaffe: Das Leben der Formen: Werke 1980–2008 / The Life of Forms: Works 1980–2008, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2008); and Anima Mundi, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2011). In 2018, Lund Humphries published a monograph on Taaffe that examines his entire career over the past four decades. Philip Taaffe presently works and lives in West Cornwall, Connecticut.