Henry Taylor at Blum & Poe, New York
By: Johanna Fateman
This L.A. artist paints with flat acrylic color and a speedy but nuanced gestural simplicity that can break effortlessly into passages of surprising detail. A selection of new portraits here, from the series “Dakar, Senegal,” are installed salon-style and initially evoke family snapshots, though none of them feature groups and many are cropped as tightly as passport photos. Taylor has thrown one wild-card self-portrait into the mix, but his relationship to his other subjects remains purposefully unclear. The exhibition’s title, “Niece Cousin Kin Look How Long It’s Been,” suggests a diasporic theme, underscored by a wall-spanning mural of a world map in which Africa is rendered dark brown and emblazoned with a dollar sign. Migrating birds, transatlantic trade routes, a headless security guard, multiracial sunbathers, and found photos complete a vibrant, pointed meditation on colonial history, the legacy of slavery, and the impact of tourism.