This summer, Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor traveled to Paris where he set up a temporary studio ahead of his exhibition ‘FROM SUGAR TO SHIT’ inaugurating our new gallery in the city. Throughout his four-decade career, Taylor has consistently and simultaneously embraced and rejected the tenets of traditional painting—as well as any formal label—combining figurative, landscape and history painting, alongside drawing, installation and sculpture. Encompassing the remarkable breadth of his practice, ‘FROM SUGAR TO SHIT’ will debut new works by the artist and coincides with the arrival of a major career survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
While in Paris, Taylor drew inspiration from its unparalleled array of historical art collections, including the Musée d’Orsay, where he found himself surrounded by the work of the French impressionists, expressionists and fauvists who have inspired him since he was young. ‘It’s good to see the OGs,’ remarked Taylor when we visited him in his Bastille studio, where new paintings were beginning to take shape. ‘I call them the OGs: Bonnard, Manet and Vuillard… It’s that history that gets you pumped.’
Rooted in the people and communities closest to him, Taylor’s vast body of work is primarily about relationships and how they impact our lives. Here, the artist offers a glimpse into his process, his time in Paris and how he came to pick the title of his upcoming show.
On ‘FROM SUGAR TO SHIT’ You’re always thinking about titles. Things aren’t always so thematic but they are—I thought about something my mother always said, and that was, ‘from sugar to shit.’ I know what she meant. A lot of things go to shit. They can lift you up and bring you down. They can make you look like sugar.
On his sculptures People like to say it’s a hunting and gathering process. But yeah, I do believe it is. I just collect things and it could be anything. Toilet paper rolls. Some people, they have a bottle cap. Gum that people spit out of bottles. People are always making something out of nothing.
On finding inspiration There’s some things that resonate with you, so you just pick it up. It could be almost anything, you know what I mean? Anything. So many people make so many things out of anything. I think it’s like poetry—you start from nothing. We have a bunch of words up in there, you know what I mean? But everybody can’t write a poem.