SENS Gallery is pleased to announce I Will Be Your Friend, a solo exhibition of American sculptor Austyn Taylor in Hong Kong. The exhibition will run from 14th July to 5th August 2023. Marking the first exhibition displaying sculpture, Taylor’s visually pleasing works illustrate animals as a friendly presence, reevaluating our observations of animals as a different being.
Familiarity and attachment with animals demonstrate the precision and detail on the stonework surfaces of Taylor’s sculptures. A constant presence in her life, they represent both idealism and reality: these creatures are vessels of escapism, yet also keep the artist grounded to reality. This close connection is further exemplified with a given name for each sculpture, akin to the relationship between humans and their pets. In what Taylor describes is a “shared awareness” between humans and animals, the hopeful expressions and adorable demeanor of these sculptures encourage the viewer to befriend them. These sculptures, despite not being human in any physical aspect, symbolize our collective humanity. Under the rigid surface, these animals emanate dynamic emotions that project a sense of freedom, fixated in the present moment. They are a welcome respite from how we perceive reality.
For Taylor, her preference for using ceramics is a matter of connection between the art and the viewer: the explicit physicality of sculpture affects the feelings and emotions that surround a space. Painting, on the other hand, defines an image on a canvas like that of a window, where the audience can only view from a distance. These forms take up the space of a vicinity, providing the viewer little choice but to observe it at a close distance and feel its presence. Taylor begins her creative process with intuition. Occasionally, Taylor creates a sketch to organize her ideas, but once she begins carving on the clay material, these ideas will gradually deviate according to how she is feeling in the moment. The crochet-like patterns of the clay are a result of coil building and thumb pressing to create a vibrational and warm feeling in her sculptures.
Taylor’s stylistic approach can be attributed from her observations of ancient ceramic art from across the globe. In past civilizations, animals were personified evocations of divinity, power, and the fertility of the natural world. Mythology and fables attribute to the ancient customs of personifying both wild and domesticated animals, reflecting on the interconnections of man and animal. This connection is further accentuated in the masks and idols of tribal cultures, reflecting the spirit of the animal. Animation and illustration also play a huge influence in Taylor’s cartoonish, childlike sculptures, stemmed from the artist’s own curiosity of what characters were doing when they were not on the screen or page.
Like the anima, Latin for “breath”, “life”, or “spirit”, existing within both humans and animals, the animals of Austyn Taylor characterize a sense of hope reflected in their energetic experience, and further appeals to our universal experience with animals.