Best Before

Art Life , Exhibitions Nov 21, 2014 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

Reminders of death’s inevitability and the fleeting nature of human life were prevalent in the vanitas paintings of the Renaissance. Featuring skulls, decaying fruit, dying flowers and other time-based symbols, the seductive nature of these beautifully painted still-life freeze frames leant greater power to their underlying moral guidance. Similarly, Nathan Taylor’s latest series of brightly coloured hyperreal paintings employ charm as their initial weapon. The viewer, so quick to fall for the decoy, has no chance but to fall into Taylors trap. It’s one that zooms the subject of his work – junk food and it’s awful aftermath – into sharp and unavoidable focus. Although death’s veiled certainty is still present in Taylor’s message, this time its early onset is avoidable but apparently ignored. While some have named junk food as the tobacco of the 21st century, it seems that no one is listening hard enough.


In Best Before Taylor’s finely rendered acrylic paintings on board poignantly reflect our culture of consumption and the commodification of food. Littered with half-eaten chips and hamburgers, Smartie-cloaked donuts, overturned Coke cans and empty coffee cups –Taylor’s work simultaneously holds a mirror to our exhaustive desire for excess and the bitter dregs of its waste. A sly reference to the infiltration of American culture isn’t lost on the viewer, and the lack of any human presence adds to Taylor’s effectiveness – have we willingly let another nameless child succumb to their early destruction?

Until December 13
Michael Reid Gallery, Elizabeth Bay
Pic: Nathan Taylor, Self Indulgence I, 2014. Acrylic on board, 50 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artist and Michael Reid Gallery.

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Sharne Wolff

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