A Henry Taylor retrospective at MOCA highlights the artist's individual and universal portrayal. "Henry Taylor: B Side" is on display until April 30, 2023.
In nearly every article, interview, or press release written about Henry Taylor, he is described as "an artist's artist." No matter what that term actually means, it is undoubtedly a compliment, but it cuts short on the non-artist's ability to appreciate and respect the man's great talent. Indeed, Taylor is a people's artist. He paints, sculpts and draws furiously, as evidenced by the extraordinary breadth of work on display in the career retrospective “Henry Taylor: B Side” on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the artist's hometown of Los Angeles.
As a chronicler of people from all walks of life, Taylor's subjects range from family members to fellow artists to patients at the Camarillo State Mental Hospital, where he worked decades ago. In all of his works, there is something universal and achingly individual, with many of his paintings serving as character studies combined with social commentary.
In the exhibition catalogue, curator Bennett Simpson writes of Taylor: “He is also, or perhaps foremost, an advocate and caretaker of the black experience, flooding his work with recognition and social commentary. In that role, his paintings communicate a profound sense of responsibility – to memory and community, to excellence and contingency.”