Philip Taaffe: Interview

Philip Taaffe, Enchiridion, 2014, mixed media on canvas, 80 1/4 × 71 inches (© P
Philip Taaffe, Enchiridion, 2014, mixed media on canvas, 80 1/4 × 71 inches (© Philip Taaffe, courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York)

Charles Stein interviews painter Philip Taaffe about his work. Taaffe's recent paintings will be on view at Luhring Augustine Bushwick from January 17 - April 26, 2015.

Taaffe comments: "I always feel that I’m a medium. My ideal condition is to be outside of the work and to let these transmissions take place on the basis of my understanding and personal reflections and my urge to turn these tropes into something that is of palpable use, through my physical actions and gestures, through signs and traces—all of the things I can build upon and make connections from. I think that an artist has to set up imaginary fields of possibility for the participant, the viewer, to help them connect with their own personal history, their own humanity, where they come from. That’s the dialogue that art provides. It’s how we carry on... these paintings are in part historical meditations. When I place glyphs that have been used by people in a certain time and geographical place, it’s a kind of time-traveling. I’m unraveling a kind of narrative, bringing in certain disputed narratives, and weaving them back together—that’s something that I very much like to do. In that sense my work is about desire, ultimately. Painting is about what I want to exist in the world. I feel there’s a certain kind of tonality and poetry and sensuousness that is missing, perhaps, from our time."