Like the cartoons of Jim Davis (the creator of Garfield the cat and his ferocious humour), Taylor McKimens’ drawings and paintings present a distinctive vocabulary that finds its source in memories of his childhood in a small desert town in California, somewhere near the borders with Mexico and Arizona. It is from this desperately banal environment, peopled with cactus, oil barrels, wasteland and wrecked cars, that he derives most of the emblematic motifs of an “American life” like his, among others.
Each of his works – using paper, canvas or other media – has a generic character that combines the synthetic power of line with the organic nature of paint. This produces a double effect of attraction and repulsion, detaching every object from its context: a dripping hot dog topped with a vague trail of mustard, a flowering plant in a pot overspilling with soil, a parcel of fast food oozing ketchup – they suddenly take on a quasi-sculptural relief. This treatment of the image also avoids any representational hierarchy, whether it be a fly buzzing round, a worm emerging from a hole, or an individual. The human figure, in a form of indifference between the sexes, is struck with anonymity. Like an escapee from a cartoon, it no longer has any material presence outside of the television screen – not even in the case of portraits, or what pass for such. In this universe that is all his own, McKimens seems to animate, single-handedly, each of his characters. Some are in motion, if he wants them to be, while others seem to be waiting for something that will never happen. One particular aspect of this (let us say) “theatrical” representation is so strange that common sense spontaneously rejects it: the bodies look as if they were “skinned”. Some sweat from the slightest effort, in an imprecise, indeterminate activity. Others express the melancholic feeling of an inexorable malaise that has come upon humankind.
NEW YORK MINUTE, Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow
NOT QUITE OPEN FOR BUSINESS, curated by Kathy Grayson, The Hole, New York
MUTANT POP, curated by Dearraindrop, Galleri Loyal, Malmo, Sweden
RELICS FROM (THE) OTHER REALMS –The Barat Foundation, Newark
WILD FEATURE – curated by Brian Belott at Zürcher Studio, New York and Galerie Zürcher, Paris
NEW YORK MINUTE – Macro Future Museum, Rome
STRIPS, SCRIPTS AND SCAPES : Contemporary Comics in Southern California - the Riverside Art Museum, Riverside
MAIL ORDER MONSTERS - Andreas Melas Presents, Athènes ; Max Wigram, London
SOFT SERVE - Deitch Projects, New York (solo)
SWEET DREAMS OF PHEONIX - Galleri Loyal, Stockholm (solo)