CYDONIA is pleased to announce Robert Taite’s first American solo exhibition, Vague Motives. The exhibition opens on Saturday, January 6 and runs until Saturday, February 10, 2018. A reception honoring the artist will take place from 11 to 2 in the afternoon on Saturday, January 6 at 909 Currie Street in the Fort Worth Cultural District.
Painted pieces of trimmed poplar and unprimed canvas are carefully composed directly onto the wall, treating the wall as a canvas itself. The color palette of the composition is naturally muted. Some units are modular, some are geometric, and some are biomorphic. Red and black colors are balanced beside delicate blues, taupes, and greens. Citing minimalist master Agnes Martin as an indirect influence, Robert Taite’s paintings are both governed and freed by the grid. His philosophy to marry geometry with nature is analogous to his consideration of the (artificial) art object and its (human) viewer.
For his premiere in the U.S., Winnipeg born-and-based Taite presents his newest body of segmented, deconstructed paintings, continuing his departure from traditions of the rectangular format. His geographically isolating hometown with its long winters plays a significant role in his unique aesthetic. Colors, like materials, are found. Taite collects mis-tints from hardware stores throughout Winnipeg. These mixed paints were rejected by their previous owners, but Taite gives these paints a new and unexpected life. And in this way, each painting, composed from pre-existing materials and paint, is more linked to the people (and culture) of Winnipeg. The artist describes nostalgia as both a negative and positive propelling force in his production. For him, creation is a mix of excitement and sadness, loss and discovery. Anchored by a sense of safety, he experiments with new formal arrangements, in a city far away from cultural capitals that are more familiar with dialogues about the possibilities of painting.
Nearly 60 years after Lawrence Alloway curated the Guggenheim’s seminal show The Shaped Canvas, present-day artists continue to investigate formal innovations in painting. Critic and historian Francis Colpitt clarified that the shaped canvas is frequently described as a hybrid of painting and sculpture, but its appearance into the scene was an outgrowth of the issues related to abstract painting. Alternative canvases expressed artists’ desire to “delve into real space by rejecting the behind-the-frame illusionism.” Driven by spatial concerns, Taite creates a different system, breaking out of the frame of the canvas, in an effort to be closer to the work, itself. Taite’s sympathy and attention to the viewer becomes a stylistic indicator. Even in his most ambitious works, where the canvas appears to explode within the gallery space, the bond between the body and object pilots the viewing experience. This connection is made apparent due to his punctuated use of organic and organ-like forms. His art looks handcrafted as if each form was shaped through touch, meaning the shapes and composition did not originate singularly from the vision he had for the work. They were realized through his own need to handle his own art. Taite creates works with the viewer in mind. In post-conceptual fashion, his practice is bilateral in that it solicits and considers our engagement.
Clement Greenberg concluded in his formative essay “Towards a Newer Laocoön” that culture could only ‘dispose of abstract art by assimilating it, by fighting our way through it.’ Vague Motives by Robert Taite proposes a contemporary pathway for abstract painting through deconstruction. What makes a painting a ‘painting?’ Taite investigates the meaning and medium of painting.
Robert Taite holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. In 2014 and 2015, he was a finalist for the esteemed Royal Bank of Canada Painting Competition. He has exhibited in galleries and museums extensively throughout Canada and has participated in numerous fair presentations including Art Toronto 2014, 2016, and 2017 and at Art Los Angeles Contemporary in 2017. Taite has been the recipient of numerous grants by Art Councils of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Canada. Recent exhibitions include Minimal(ist) Effort at Angell Gallery in Toronto and Acrow Pillow Prop at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelona, British Columbia. Taite has an upcoming two-person show at AXENEO7 in Gatineau, Quebec in summer 2018.
The artist lives and works in Winnipeg, Canada.
 Colpitt, Francis. (Spring, 1991). The Shape of Paintings in the 1960s. Art Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 52-56.