Using abstraction, Taya Ross, interprets the surface qualities of her work critically through the contrast of juxtaposing elements such as colour, texture, form, and pattern. Taya's
motivation as an artist comes from her intense interest in culture, however the
physicality of her work is her main focus. Modernist approaches such as minimalism,
and pure abstraction have inspired Ross' taste but what she finds most intriguing is the post
modern movement that developed in the 70’s and 80's known as Pattern and
Decoration (or P&D). Ross' work is related to this post modern movement in a few ways.
Her education in fine art and anthropology has had a deep impact on her direction as a
painter. This direction was realized early on and defined by her deep fascination with
organic and geometric forms when put together in contrast. For Taya, art and
anthropology are one and the same and paintings themselves are anthropological.
From this, opposing concepts such as nature and culture, and masculine and feminine
are concepts that are paralleled as natural and geometric shapes in Taya Ross' work. The
nature/culture antagonist has been a topic of interest for many artists and has
implications that, in her view have never been fully realized.
The Pattern and Decoration movement was particularly a reaction away from the
modern work being done at the time which valued the bold, male (public) space, and
considered the female (domestic) space as place for craft, not art. The value of the
aesthetic qualities of ornamentation became known and celebrated in this
development. Hard edge, geometric forms were masculine and dominated modern
tastes for abstract art during the modern art movement. Instead, the femininity of
patterns and designs from crafted artifacts influenced the post modern ideals of P&D
artists. Ross' work combines the two contrasting styles and breaks down the separation
between the two. It combines both the nature and culture concepts with contrasting
natural and geometric forms and creates ambiguity as the separation between the two
The physical aspects of her work share several aspects of P&D artists. Mimicking and
collaging or borrowing from decorative wallpapers, quilts, and fabrics is a P&D
tradition. Another common aspect of decorative work is that there is a refined
emphasis on neither the background or foreground, both are important. Patterns often
continue to the edges of the paintings and are cropped in P&D works of art, as is
typical of Japanese prints and crafted items. Last of note, the finished work can be
seen as art objects themselves, rather than narratives or scenes which keeps this type
of work in the realm of modern abstraction.
The proportion that she enjoys most for her work is square. This shape is most flattering to
my style as most of Taya's work is symmetrical. She begins by stretching floral patterned fabric over the frame. The floral fabric is a part the "borrowed" aspects of her work, however her geometric forms are often, but not always influenced by Western craftwork. The floral pattern is the embodiment of the natural, soft, feminine side of her work. The
geometric forms that are applied on top of the fabric have a masculine feel.
The culturally "built" world has traditionally been thought of as belonging to the
masculine world as her work represents. The contrasting elements in her work;
masculine and feminine or nature and culture, come together as one overall pattern
rather than two separate designs. Overlaying the two elements and use a variety of
techniques to blur the boundaries between the two. For example, the floral pattern will
sometimes be seen through the paint of the geometric forms. Because the geometric
and natural forms are so different, techniques such as these are important not only
because she aims to combine the two, but also to create a space that is unified and
balanced. She also explores efforts to unify opposing elements in a composition
through color temperature and value. Or she uses the surface qualities to mimic the
texture or color her opposing shapes so that they come together. Ross often uses
iridescent paint which makes the fabric "shine" as a reference to the plastic feel of the
thickly applied paint she that uses for the geometric forms.
She has other more subtle but playful ways of actually enhancing the contrast between
the organic and geometric shapes as well. One of the the ways she does this is by
contrasting hard edges made by taped off sections with thick paint against soft edges
made by dry brushing freehand which she also does with some of my geometric forms. She is continuously balancing the elements to avoid having too much emphasis on either the
background or foreground. The process is an ironic game of pushing and pulling as she
creates contrast and then think of ways to bring back unity.
The ambiguity that is seen in the contrasted elements in her work parallels the elements
of our culture that often overlap, such as gender. Nature and the culturally constructed
overlap as well. Our tendency to try to control the natural world is typical and is
represented by her ridged geometric forms that have been created using taped off and
highly controlled sections. Our ideals to embrace nature are a contradiction and Taya's
work shows this as the geometric forms are forced over the soft floral fabric.
The focus on contrasting forms, color, and texture is and has in the past been what
makes Taya's work dynamic and distinguished. As she has shown, opposing cultural
concepts are represented in her work as juxtaposing shapes that work together as one
image. Ross' paintings are all about color and texture. The shapes and floral patterns are
tools which she uses to play with color combinations and surface qualities and these
qualities are what drives her to continue her exploration of painting.