Rodney Taylor’s “Impure Abstraction” conveys a refreshing creative freedom

Robust creative energy combined with an unusual painting technique dominates Rodney Taylor’s survey show in the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts gallery. Taylor’s tendency to adopt figurative imagery on occasion serves to illuminate his pure abstractions and gives rise to the show’s title, “Impure Abstraction.”

Taylor paints with flashe (a vinyl-based matte-finish paint), clay, water and sometimes tempera. In many works, he applies it with his fingers, which generates crackled, fragile-looking strokes. They look vulnerable, as if they might fall off at any moment.

In many paintings, the medium calls to mind the look of decaying interior walls. In some works, the welter of strokes suggests forms in nature, like clusters of strips of tree bark. Precursors to this aesthetic from the 1940s and ’50s are photographs of peeling paint by Aaron Siskind and the ripped poster art of Jacques Villeglé. In Taylor’s hands, the medium becomes a tool for

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