Michael Taylor


Michael Taylor mimics the immediate and expansive nature of the drawing process in order to develop scenes and characters in his painted work. Removed from its purely observational qualities, drawing becomes a projection of the artist’s intuition, imagination and memory. Representational and figurative elements in Taylor’s paintings create narrative frameworks that are unravelled to varying degrees through abstract marking. These baggy storylines are then fastened to titles that suggest postures, mannerisms and social codes. The titles spark moments of recognition in chronicles of masculinity, camp theatricality, personal and cultural mythology, and humanity in all its pomp and ineptitude.

Michael Taylor (b. 1979) lives and works in Cape Town. He graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Stellenbosch University and has since exhibited in solo and group shows in South Africa, Australia, The Netherlands, UK and USA. He was shortlisted in the Thames & Hudson’s 100 Young Painters of Tomorrow in 2013 and his work is held in numerous private collections globally, including the Woodner Collection (USA).


My work can be described as ironic, illustrative, and self-reflexive pictures. I draw comparisons between personal and cultural knowledge – themes and narratives that inform my everyday thinking. These interpretations are fundamentally concerned with image-text paradigms – the subtleties between visual thoughts and language. I look at these relationships, particularly the interplay between an image and its adjoined title, as concepts for my work. And I am always interested in working with humour and ridicule, ways of communicating that are disarming, and those aspects pointing to being simply human. It’s these elements, I believe, that will make the viewer become aware of themselves when reading the image.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2022 The Acme Suite - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2021 This is Awkward, .M Contemporary, Sydney
2019 Boys On The Side - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2016 The Jungle Husband, M. Contemporary, Sydney, Australia
The Night Moves - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2015 Trophies - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
VOLTA NY 2015, New York
2014 Home Truths, M. Contemporary, Sydney, Australia
I Was Born Yesterday - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town, South Africa
2012 Mumbo Jumbo - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2011 The Tenacious Tree Huggers, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2010 Comeback Boys, CO-OP, Johannesburg
The Lion’s Den, WorldArt Gallery, Cape Town Comeback Boys, CO-OP, Johannesburg Joburg Art Fair (with João Ferreira Gallery), Johannesburg
Joburg Art Fair (with João Ferreira Gallery), Johannesburg
2009 The Plot Thickens, WorldArt Gallery, Cape Town
Art Amsterdam, João Ferreira Gallery, Amsterdam
2008 Prints & Editions 08, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2007 Nocturnes, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2006 Who framed Michael Taylor?, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
Title Sequence, US Gallery, Stellenbosch

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 RESTUDIO, Cunningham Contemporary, Johannesburg
2018 Print Promises, IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Proof, SMAC, Stellenbosch
2013 Positive Tension, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2012 Paint I: Contemporary Painting in South Africa 2002 - 2012, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town
2011 A Natural Selection: 1911 - 2011, AVA Gallery, Cape Town
2010 The Menippean Uprising, Blank Projects, Cape Town
Curren Matter, Grande Provence Gallery, Franschhoek
2009 Summer Salon, UCA Gallery, Cape Town
Angels4Good, Grande Provence Gallery, Franschhoek
Black, Blank Projects, Cape Town
A Meeting, AVA Gallery, Cape Town
Subtext, US Gallery, Stellenbosch
Pigment on Paper, UCA Gallery, Cape Town
2007 Am I a Painter, ArtB Gallery, Bellville
Paper and Me, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
2006 The most exciting drawing show ever, the KKNK, Oudtshoorn
Title Sequence, US Gallery, Stellenbosch
The Collage Show, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2004 BSA L’Atelier Awards, National Exhibition, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg
ABSA L’Atelier Awards, Regional Exhibition, ArtB Gallery, Bellville

Art Fairs

FNB Art Joburg 2023
Cape Town Art Fair 2023

Selected Publications

2013      Selected Works
2005      The Book of Immediate Nonsense, Electronic Book