Taylor Anton White
Stafford, Virginia, United States.
Could you tell us about yourself? Where did it all begin?
I was born in San Diego, California, but grew up in Colorado and North Carolina. I was a terrible student in high school, and eventually joined the Marines. After about 9 years, I then decided that it was time to move on. I went to college afterward, starting at 35 years old. Without any research on colleges or “art schools,” I decided to just go to the closest university to my house, which was the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Initially I wasn’t even thinking about making art, and I started a psychology major (mainly because it seemed responsible sounding). Eventually, I took an elective course which was a very basic introduction to art, and I was immediately hooked. I knew it as soon as I walked into the building the first day, that it was some sort of magical place filled with paradox. I couldn’t get enough of it. The art professors there had a tremendous impact on me, and they became serious mentors in my life. I made loads of art as a kid, and returning to it in my mid-thirties felt like i’d discovered a time machine, I couldn’t get enough of it.
We would like to know more about your style because in your works you use a lot of different techniques and materials so what is your vision?
Generally, I never really begin a painting with a specific plan, or an image in my mind. I can overhear a segment of a conversation or see something when I’m driving, and it sort of becomes a point of departure for a painting. I don’t ever feel the need to return back to that initial prompt, and I often just let my curiosity carry the work into a place I’d never have preconceived. Rarely do I throw scraps of drawings and segments of failed paintings in the garbage, because I always have this feeling that those pieces of material still have great potential. For me, the potential found in my waste material is rooted in how I treat it; I don’t try to protect it and it seems to allow me to handle materials and entire paintings with total freedom, without apprehension. I view pieces of colored plastic, various textile materials, and segments of drawings as equivalent to the application of paint with a brush. Sewing heavy materials together with an industrial sewing machine creates a line on a painting, and often it’s sort of this haphazard line that is really just a result of how the material had to be fed through the machine. I view that as a method of drawing. Everything I make is not sewn together or collaged, these are just tools I use to edit things in an image.
My primary objective in making art, is simply to make something that I haven’t personally seen before. To work with an object until it sort of surprises me. To wrestle with something until I win, or until I lose, and to challenge myself to have the confidence to show work that I regard as total failure.
Following your profile in instagram, we noticed how often you show off funny things. Tell us about this part of your art?
Humor is extremely important to me. All of my friends are funny people, my wife is funny, my two children are completely strange. I’m continuously surrounded by humor, so it just comes through in my work, and it keeps instagram fun for me.
From all appearances, based on those videos, we can say that you are very cheerful. Do you identify yourself as such person?
I’m the eternal optimist. For me, optimism is essential in making art, as I never really feel defeated when something doesn’t work. I learn from it, something is always gained through failing. Even recording failure is interesting to me. Hey, watch me fail! Look how I can’t do this!
Tell us about your studio. What is this place and how long have you been working?
My studio in Virginia is in the basement of my house, but i’m currently in the process of moving to a much larger studio in Richmond, VA. I’ve always liked working right where I live. Spontaneity is very important in my work, and often I can be eating breakfast or looking out the window in my house and arrive at an idea which can be immediately executed, without any hesitation or overthinking. Moving into an external studio will change things, and I’m very excited about that kind of shift occurring in my working rhythm.
I’ve been working for about 4 years now, and it completely took over my life, I quit my job, it’s just this now and I love it. I think this is also facilitated by working in Virginia, and not in NYC or somewhere where things become incredibly expensive. Having a studio in a low cost of living environment allows me to take risks that I might not take when living in a very expensive environment.
Describe your usual working day. What does it looks like? What kind of music do you prefer to listen there?
Mornings are my most productive time, and I usually get a cup of coffee and race down to my studio to see what I was working on the previous night with fresh eyes. That’s always super entertaining for me; going to bed feeling like I made some great decision, then waking up to see how terrible it was. I love laughing at the previous day’s decisions the next morning. Usually I work until i’m hungry, and often I have to force myself to stop working so that I can let things develop at the right pace. Lots of decisions in paintings are made extremely quickly, and rendered very violently, but they are often followed by long pauses so that I can view them more objectively.
Music has always been super important to me and it’s always playing in the studio. Lately I’ve been listening to The Shaggs. I love them.
Tell about your latest exhibition briefly: what kind of works was it or a series of works?
I’m currently in Berlin working on a group of paintings for a solo show that opens Sept 26th at Galerie Kremers. This show will have several large paintings and a couple of very small paintings, and a few of them have some new approaches and materials that i’ve never used before. One of them has giant holes cut into it with a razor, I couldn’t stop laughing at it.
Share your plans for the rest of this year please.
When I return to the U.S. in October, i’ll begin working on two upcoming solo shows; one in NYC at Deli Grocery and another in Seoul at G. Gallery.