WATERHOUSE & DODD announces major exhibition of works by Bernie Taupin: Antiphona
Exhibition dates: November 4 – 30, 2016 at 960 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Waterhouse & Dodd, the international dealership with galleries in Europe and the USA, is delighted to present Bernie Taupin’s artwork in his first solo exhibition in New York City.
There is some obvious synergy between Waterhouse & Dodd and Taupin as we both have British backgrounds, they have both made names in the U.S., then moved here and embraced the fabric of American culture. Taupin’s love and commitment to the U.S. and the stars and stripes is intense, and as a U.S. citizen he no longer regards himself as British. Artistically, he has immersed himself in the vocabulary of American abstract art ever since he was inspired by long visits to New York museums in 1970 and 1971.
Antiphona, the carefully chosen title to our show, is Taupin’s response to his musical past, and a declaration of his dedication to his current and future life as a visual artist. Most highly creative individuals are capable of inspired work in different artistic fields, but few achieve it; Taupin has. He’s considered himself as primarily a visual artist since the ‘90s, and believes that his visual art is music for the eyes.
For more information or high-res images, please contact Sandra@waterhousedodd.com or call the gallery at (212) 717-9100.
Saluting Lyrical Abstraction
By Bruce Helandar, 2016
In Bernie Taupin’s solo exhibition Antiphona at Waterhouse & Dodd, his recognizable visual common denominator continues to be apparent not only in the thematic materials that he works with but the increasingly dramatic and confident use of assemblage and collage.
Taupin, a British-born artist who is a U.S. citizen, appears to have a natural ability to organize disparate shapes and subject matter into complex compositions that often incorporate a single duplicated image, which is repeated in a bold haphazard pattern and collectively becomes a powerful visual message. A good example of this technique is Straight Jacket, where the artist has gathered together miniature vinyl globes, which carry a distinctive color palette identifying the countries of the world.
Taupin skillfully builds an inescapable condensed visual friction in this distinctive work, as the identical spheres position themselves for independence. A final touch that has become an idiosyncratic signature for the artist is his penchant for literally tying down objects or bits of paper with a crisscrossing web of twine that accentuates the foundation, while offering a bit of mystery and intrigue that seems to homogenize the entire surface by literally “pulling” the piece together.
In this same series, twine is utilized inventively in Peep Show to emphasize an attempt at privacy while covering up girlie postcards and photographs, where rope might be employed as a “tool of
the trade.” Another minimal, subtly beautiful work is Norman Rockwell Cried Last Night, which is essentially a white-on-white painting reminiscent of a picket fence disappearing into the fog. The artist leaves it up to us to draw our own conclusions as to what side of the fence we are on.
Another distinctive and memorable assemblage is Evolution, which reveals its message to the viewer in the form of vinyl records, 8 tracks, cassettes, and CDs, the ultimate vintage by-product of the music industry. It also reminds us of how the record industry had lost ground in recent years, only to be somewhat revitalized by the resurgence of vinyl’s popularity. In this assemblage, discarded ephemera generates a swirling ‘groovy’ design of utilitarian circular shapes that spin in every direction, making their own brand of adaptively re-used music.
It’s appropriate to mention that hit records have played an important role in Taupin’s career, as he balances visual art with his legendary talents as a songwriter; a pursuit that many who started as painters in art school, from David Byrne to Martin Mull, have all found to be a natural connection and progression in their lives.
Taupin has maintained a steady interest in the American flag, both as a powerful symbol of independence and freedom and as a handsome natural geometric design of stars and stripes, which have been used as inspiration for numerous artists, from Jasper Johns to Kenneth Noland. He uses this historic motif as a motivational springboard for including images of bits and pieces and often the full flag itself into his arrangements, which made their debut at Waterhouse & Dodd during Art Wynwood, Miami, in 2016. These works incorporating Old Glory often are embellished with stanzas of hand-painted words that end as visual poetry, meshing together word and image equations. After all, it’s a lyricist’s responsibility to “paint” pictures with words that you can feel and hear, but cannot see, so on the ‘B’ side of the record it follows quite naturally to create paintings that you can read. Artists like Christopher Wool (Sell the House, Sell the Kids!), Jenny Holzer (Money Creates Taste) and Barbara Kruger (Untitled; I shop therefore I am) continue to produce text-based messages that often pull from American life and apple pie, a process that Taupin also finds enjoyable and challenging.
There are several other works that have the flag image, such as From Scorched Earth, which is an arrangement of dozens of condensed pocket squares that are folded and repositioned to depict a sea of red, white and blue that somehow ends up as a simple diptych, separated by burnt timber-like frames that toss in a bit of American history for good measure. The remainder of this flag series makes references to tales of woe, as in They Placed Her in a Glass Coffin and Awaited her Reawakening, a clear reference to Snow White waiting in vain.
No left Turn at Babylon combines seventeen flags in different sizes, in which the artist literally burned battlefield holes and then “repaired” them with stitches, perhaps referring to the efforts of original flag seamstress, Betsy Ross. In Johnny Cash, Taupin simply refers to what he calls one great American symbol in music. These works progress with an intriguing theme that the artist has mastered, offering the observer a distinguishable style orchestrated by inventive spirit and experience.
Bruce Helander’s articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, Sculpture magazine and Simply the Best.