Artist: Charlie Haydn Taylor
There are so many issues plaguing the world at the moment. It feels like it’s the worst it’s ever been. But maybe it’s always like this; the belief that past troubles pale compared to those experienced in the present. British pop artist, Charlie Haydn Taylor, can give you both perspectives. Literally. His art covers a wide range of subjects within the social, political and psychological realms, using digital collage to show the present, and the past, side by side.
Chatting with Charlie, it’s hard to believe he’s in his mid-twenties, wise as he is for his age. His interest in exploring the past and examining it in the context of the present, hasn’t come about because he’s jaded or bitter, or even because he’s trying to agitate. “I’m not an activist,” he says. “Actually, I’m quite centrist. People assume I’m more liberal because of the topics in my work. I’m just interested in exploring the issues affecting people. That could be misogyny, climate change, mental health. And then I like to look at how those same issues might have appeared in the past.”
“You Can Only Be So Happy, But You Could Be Dead” by Charlie Haydn Taylor, digital collage on aluminium, 2020
This raises two questions for the viewer. Looking back at past events, with the knowledge you have now, how would you do things differently? And by seeing scenes from history juxtaposed alongside what’s happening in the here and now, can you gain enough insight not to make the same mistakes twice? Alternatively, maybe you’ll just notice things about the past or present, now they’re showing up in the same artwork that were obscured before.
“Fools Paradise” by Charlie Haydn Taylor, digital collage on aluminium, 2020
“I love art history,” says Charlie, when asked about the references, motifs and fine details that are woven into his saturated, layered and carefully composed work. When asked about “The Divided Mind”, a scene featuring artwork by Francis Bacon, he explains, “I like how figures from the past can be a mirror to show us how we consume culture. I come from a family interested in people. People – individuals - are what make up society, not groups.”
“The Divided Mind” by Charlie Haydn Taylor, digital collage on board, 2020
What we like is how there are little in-jokes peppered through his pieces: he features one of his own artworks on the wall within a scene that forms a new artwork. It has the fun yet meta effect that gets you thinking. These aren’t just stylish and attractive pictures to hang on your wall and provide a backdrop for dinner parties. This is gently thought-provoking stuff. “I try not to respond to the audience,” Charlie says, “that’s not my job. But people seem to resonate with the existential elements in my work the most. And that’s what I’m drawn to too.”
Left [Main Image]: “There One Minute, Gone The Next” by Charlie Haydn Taylor, digital collage on aluminium, 2021
Right [Insert]: “Ghost Town In My Overflowing Mind” by Charlie Haydn Taylor, giclée on paper, 2020
When we ask if creating his thoughtful collages is cathartic, it’s a straight and short answer: “No! It’s not like I figure something out, and the art is the result of that. I get frustrated because I want to go deeper and look into things more. I suppose this is what keeps me going. Using digital systems as a method of creating allows me to do that.”
Charlie is now experimenting with combining painting and digital elements. “I studied design at Goldsmith’s, even though I knew I wanted to be an artist. I thought it would benefit me commercially in the long term. And it did. Just not in the way that I thought! I started producing digital work to earn my way through college. It was either that or work in a pub. I had a short stint as a designer after graduating, but I’ve been an artist ever since.”
At play in his studio, Charlie is now experimenting with combining painting and digital elements
Since then, he’s been keeping good company. Charlie’s work was picked up for a Best of British Show, featuring alongside the likes of Banksy and Tracey Emin. And he’s just off the back of a successful exhibition with the pre-eminent art gallery of Jersey – the British Channel Island where he’s been waiting out Covid-19 with his family before moving back to London later this year. Now, the Asian market will be able to access Charlie’s resonant work through Addicted Art Gallery.
“I’m happy that my work seems to be transcending time and space. I really just want to create time stamps, so that people notice the world we’re living in.”
Written by Skye Wellington, Lens & Pen Projects