Writer and novelist Michael Bracewell describes Neal Tait’s paintings…”as having the precision and abbreviated logic of remembered details in a dream….Each has a very definite mood, and within it, each occurrence, however strange, advances with its own assurance and self-possession.” Dreamlike, folkloric, fabular – all appropriate descriptions for what Bracewell calls the Tait terrain in which recognisable images have a mischievous logic or sense of foreboding.
For the past year Neal Tait has been living and house-sitting on a friend’s boat. A boat, in winter, is cold, and the way Tait describes it has something of existence stripped to essentials; the boat containing a bed and a lamp and not much else. Metaphorically a raft, a gangplank – near streets but adrift from them – a precarious balance but one that offers a kind of freedom and resourcefulness.
Perhaps not co-incidentally, Tait has often placed boats in his paintings; he comments that they offer a good form, a potent shape. The paintings shift - seemingly effortlessly – between figurative and abstract. Tait’s pictorial syntax includes Bill the Hunter, trophies, the skull of death, jointed puppets, rag dolls, hats, boots, children, babies, tanks; a conjunction of innocence and violence.
Neal Tait’s practice is driven by an intense engagement with painting as process, ‘allowing the forms within his paintings to pursue their own evolution onto being or non-being, sense or non-sense, as determined by the act of painting itself’ (Bracewell). Tait describes it as a time capsule of thought.