David Traylor borrows schematic references from his practice as a landscape architect, populates them with enigmatic shapes, adds a grid (or two!), and layers them with plexiglass to create his painted constructions that initially are reminiscent of boardgames or pinball machines. On closer inspection, these clever ornate mixed-media pieces provoke us to consider the effects of imposing order on a chaotic environment as well as skirting the rabbit hole of chaos theory.
Just as a garden designer imposes a series of incremental changes on the landscape, Traylor constructs his paintings from the bottom up; layering and imposing a series of systems in the form of grid, pattern, or series of related shapes. Here, colors compete in a balancing act, organic shapes repeat and mutate, and grids of dots link some shapes while letting others spin free. Each layer or system simultaneously disrupts as well as controls. There is a tension in keeping these disparate elements from flying apart and Traylor strikes a balance to create structure and comprehension. Form and structure continually exert control over the exuberant chaos and unbridled replication in these works. Nowhere is this more evident than in the striking knot garden series where he uses a boldly painted design on plexiglass as a final layer over his field of forms. Knot garden designs were the rage in Tudor England–their simplicity and elegance belied the painstaking and persistent upkeep they entailed. In Traylor’s pieces, the striking knot garden design renders the painstakingly painted field below powerless. We see this again in his ceramic work as the biological baroque-ness of the stoneware is tempered into submission by the elegant metallic glaze and classic form.
Throughout this work, diagrammatic details, crayon-box colors, and quirky shapes coalesce into elegant and mysterious designs. The reference being more mandala than monopoly board. In Garden for Daisy, Traylor takes us on a ride that starts with fun and games and ultimately leads to questions about science, mystery and beauty.