Andrew Taylor on the impossible task of preserving the present

Andrew Taylor is concerned with time. Or more specifically, how we perceive time, the nature of memory and the impossible task of preserving the present moment. The works in Paintings For Tomorrow’s Yesterday, some of which appear to offer the same landscape view but experiment with different colours and patterns to vary the effect, are an attempt to capture an ephemeral sensation.

“I get lost in how to distill this awareness and communicate [it] through my work,” says the Melbourne-based artist. “It’s often the feeling of something quite delicate that I chase. It’s a present moment, that through the process of painting becomes tomorrow’s yesterday.”

Taylor’s paintings depict the view from windows in houses he has lived in throughout the years, that “intersect with the immediate view of a recent gaze—so that time itself is no longer linear, but warps like an Einstein theorem where spacetime is bent by memories”. As the views from our previous homes linger in memories and intersect with the present, Taylor’s oil paintings are capturing this sensation.

Andrew Taylor, Outside- Yesterday 12-42, 2023, oil on linen, 152 x 182 cm.

These are long-time preoccupations for Taylor (another recent show was titled Paintings For Her Tomorrow), whose practice began in the 1980s. Alongside a meditation on time and recollection, his artworks channel an intriguing consciousness of the creative process, and the psychological and philosophical factors that feed into the critical moments of creation itself.

“Memory and the present coexist in my hand the moment the brush begins to find the image,” Taylor says of his painting process. “Marks are made and subtracted, a slow dance in time begins—the pulls, the gliding and forcing of the brush and the more physical marks with the scrapes. For me, watching the work is as important as making marks… It’s a love story between the artist and the medium.”

Paintings For Tomorrow’s Yesterday
Andrew Taylor
Olsen Gallery
22 November—15 December

Preview Words by Barnaby Smith