Arts writer Ursula Gullow met up with local painter Taiyo la Paix to discuss some of the art that can be viewed downtown at this week’s art walk. The following are excerpts from their conversation.
Jason Krekel/Zapow Gallery
La Paix: (Points at one in a series of four.) That one especially I like.
La Paix: Oh gosh, why? How do I explain it? (Long pause.) I think maybe this artist is more successful when suggesting things than actually depicting things. Does that make sense?
Gullow: It makes sense. Do you think the others are too literal?
La Paix: Hmm. No … but it’s like sexuality devoid of emotion and feeling. But this one [I like] avoids that issue altogether. In [the other ones] they’re clearly naked women but there’s no emotional connection for me.
Gullow: But I think someone would look at these and have an emotional connection.
La Paix: Really? I take it all back then. I don’t know. I personally have a problem with sexual depictions of women without personality — when it’s just a stock character with no personality I can’t go there. This one [I like] feels more DaDa to me.
Kimberly Hodges/Woolworth Walk
La Paix: You get the sense that she hasn’t really thought these out beforehand — that she follows her instinct and figures out the color and composition as she goes.
Gullow: There is something warming and very lovely about the palette. Why do you think that is? What does it evoke?
La Paix: Well, the Fauvists for sure — Henri Matisse. But Fauvism is one of those things that means something so different now than it did then. Back then it was like, punk rock. Now it’s almost the opposite.
Gullow: There’s also something very Marc Chagall about these with their floating imagery. The more I look at them the more I really enjoy them. They’re almost on the edge of looking country-craft, but she doesn’t quite go there all the way; she just teases it a little.
La Paix: I also like how things aren’t perfectly painted. I think it’s a daring thing to do.
Noah Levin/Atelier Gallery Annex on College and Lexington
La Paix: Well, I’m a big fan of David Hockney’s so, you know …
Gullow: So, they’re looking like David Hockney paintings?
La Paix: Yeah, and also maybe it’s OK for something to be just pretty and evoke a light style.
Gullow: I don’t know if I think these are pretty. When I think of pretty art I think more of Hodges’ work that we were just looking at. This seems more sedate — four chairs in a row. Why is that pretty?
La Paix: It evokes a lifestyle. It evokes a dream that happens to be somewhat consistent with what I think would be the good life. But for my taste, what’s conspicuously missing from these paintings are the people, the lovers, the families having a nice time together.
Gullow: But you tend to like figurative work in general. You gravitate towards the figure.
La Paix: It’s what I care about — lovers and friends.
Gullow: But I think the lack of the figure is what’s telling the story here. I mean, it’s eluding to the good life, but there is a loneliness to them.
La Paix: I agree. I feel like the work is better than what I personally want it to be, maybe. I’m a sucker for figures.
Daniel Robbins/ Blue Spiral 1
La Paix: My gosh, this guy really knows what he’s doing. I’m sorry I missed the opening!
Gullow: It’s amazing. But why is he painting all these flowers? He doesn’t need to do flowers.
La Paix: I love flowers, but I’ll just buy some flowers if I want flowers.
Gullow: I’m wondering if, with the flowers, he felt a need to apologize for his bleak paintings, and decided to paint something pretty.
La Paix: Just stop doing flowers. (Points to a painting of a young man playing video games.) This is where I’m an advocate for the figure. It’s just such a lonely image! It’s pitiful. You even get the sense that it’s a beautiful day outside. There’s fun to be had out there and he’s in here. This is great stuff.
Gullow: I would buy that painting if I could.