Confluence

The UCSD University Art Gallery opened Phillip Taaffe: Confluence, a 10-year survey of the artist’s work between 1990 and the year 2000, on Friday, Oct. 5. The exhibit features 25 works of various mediums including painting, collage, and printmaking.

Festivities preceding the grand opening of the new exhibit opened at Mandeville Center on Oct. 4. Events include a much-anticipated lecture by the artist.

Born in 1955 in Elizabeth, N.Y., Taaffe has been working as an artist since the early 1980s.

However, Taaffe was unable to attend his own exhibition because of the terrorist attacks in New York. His colleague and friend, Raymond Foye, gave the lecture.

Foye informed the audience, “”I’ve never given a lecture before — this is done on a very impromptu basis.””

Foye addressed the various themes of Taaffe’s paintings.

“”The lonely moment in a studio where one faces either a blank page as a poet or a blank canvas as a painter and suddenly it’s real and what do you do with that?”” Foye said.

He spoke of the artist trying to produce upon the canvas “”the nature of the poetic image, families of forms, a sense of mystery and trance.”” He said that Taaffe believe that “”painting is a spiritual opening to another place.””

“”The rhythm or music, the space in between the notes, a chance operation, the creation of a system that moves from simplicity to complexity, the thinking eye,”” was what Taaffe wanted to create, according to Foye.

Taaffe was quoted as saying, “”Nature is the great teacher of art.””

In a private interview, after being asked about his art and what it meant to him, Taaffe said, “”Every cell has to have an energy of its own.”” Therein lies the more inclusive, loving part of the story, and then there must “”be a ruthlessness.””

It was Taaffe’s goal “”not to be reductionist, but to be as inclusive as possible.”” He saw painting as “”a form of thought and also as a form of meditation.””

The exhibit itself featured radiant works of art with starfish, cobras, plants and diatoms, stripes and spots, and shapes utterly without tangible form that held the eye for what seemed like an eternity.

In the center of the exhibit was a giant painted quote from Taafe that explains it all: “”My roots are from Ireland, and I suppose a subtext to my work must relate to these Celtic shamanistic traditions. The work is also about movement or how we see in a constant series of glimpses. What do I expect it to be like as a physical encounter? I think the best thing one can hope for is to be able to enter into another world.””

The best explanation of Phillip Taaffe’s work that was heard all evening was

from Peter Prato, a literature major at UCSD. In answer to the idea that “”perhaps one does need a preoccupation with death to paint,”” his immediate

reply was “”no, one needs a preoccupation with life to paint, and an understanding of death.””

The exhibit will be running now through Saturday, Dec. 8.

The University Art Gallery is located at the west end of Mandeville Center on the UCSD campus. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided walk-throughs of the exhibition are available to the public free

of charge on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. and Saturday, Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. For more information regarding exhibitions, programs and tours, call (858) 534-2107 or visit http://www.universityartgallery.ucsd.edu

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