16 THE RIVER MAGAZINE | Summer 2019 | C U L T U R E | eerie narratives of John Bellamy and Alan Davie’s paintings. Damien Hirst opened the Newport Street Gallery in 2015. Back in the early 1990s in London, as Hirst and Tracey Emin were being engaged by Saatchi and staging their first YBA exhibitions, David Taborn crossed paths with them at the Joshua Compston event ‘A Fete Worse Than Death’in Hoxton. Another young man on the edge of this emerging scene was Compston’s contemporary Jay Jopling, who opened his first White Cube Gallery in the West End and then, two decades later, in Bermondsey. B y 1992, Taborn was 45 and enjoying some success with international sales. Nicholas Alfrey, an academic at Nottingham University, wrote of his work at that time, “It is undeniable that his most successful paintings depended for their effect on a powerful physicality, with densely-layered surfaces. Surfaces are packed with detail, tonal and chromatic organisation is pushed to a point of reckless complexity. At the same time, the paint is applied in a bewildering range of gestures and processes.” Taborn had once used landscape to explore levels of abstraction, but was abandoning forms like the horizon and planes of land or sky entirely. The paint and expression had become the object and subject itself, where colours float unbounded, ‘space’is transcended and all marks and layers are simultaneously happening. WhenTaborn’s agent and gallerist, Joshua Compston, died in 1996 at the age of just 25,Taborn’s path turned away from the London scene. He collaborated for a short time with composer Nigel Osborne at the Arnolfini Gallery and the Rambert Dance Company before beginning a new approach to objects and abstraction that would ultimately lead him to NewYork. W hen Taborn had completed his NESTA Fellowship and the Established Artist Fellowship in New York he had been taking his painting into entirely new areas. Each fresh creation developed its own visual outcome through the making process. To Taborn these unique ‘characters’ were well-described by the idea of an Homunculus, a small being created by an alchemist. A prolific period had begun in which Taborn produced a large body of four foot by four foot works that pushed his painting techniques and parameters out of the flat pictorial space into three dimensions and multi-material objects. A rt critic and writer for the ArtReview Magazine J.J. Charlesworth, wrote about this set of Taborn’s work: “It’s possible that these objects start from an idea of painting, but they very soon reach the limit of its formal definition, at least in terms of materials; painting seems like a meagre set of options when confronted with Taborn’s cornucopia of material options: just oil on paint? Just on canvas? Just stretched on a wooden stretcher? Is that it?” Taborn was utilising much more, as Charlesworth went on to describe: “Dripped, mixed coloured resins, running like molten plastic... gouged, routed, ground with angle- grinders, inlaid, cut and re-cut, repainted, layered, masked, spray-painted, drilled, objects set-in and mounted behind glass or encased in clear-resin, pipes constructed and welded – the list of operations Taborn performs on these painting-like objects is dizzying.” TIME TO PAINT Open Window (previously ‘Behind Closed Doors’) (1992-2018). Oil on canvas Caveat (1991). Oil on canvas