Zoya Taylor: Insisting on Joy

6 - 30 May 2021

Artist Talk, Thursday 29 May, 18:00

In connection with the exhibition Zoya Taylor, Insisting on Joy, we have the pleasure of inviting you to conversation between Zoya Taylor and art historian Cecilie Tyri Holt.

Please register at



Zoya Taylor - Insisting on Joy


Opening Hours

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 12:00 - 17:00

Saturday 12:00 - 16:00


We have the great pleasure of presenting the works of Zoya Taylor.
After years of exhibiting abroad she is back in Oslo with her soloshow “Insisting on Joy". 


Insisting on joy is perhaps the one definitive statement which I feel to be particularly relevant in these times. The painters, authors and other artists from whom I draw the greatest inspiration are the ones who insist on joy through adversity. I don't think paintings have to appear political to be political. I respect art whose primary purpose is political activism, and I appreciate the necessity of explicitly political art in the development of art as a whole. In my own works, however, I want the political to flow from the personal. Any political meaning in my work must be drawn from what is initially intensely personal to me. 


Coming from the Caribbean, more particularly Jamaica,  the "studied naiveté" of the "Intuitives",  - great artists such as Milton George,  John Dunkley,  Everald Brown,  Ras Dizzy and Roy Reid,- have provided the imagery which has most informed my sense of aesthetics. Beautiful and often humorous images which are also strong societal and political statements. The Harder They Come, independent Jamaica's first homemade feature film, also addresses how the little man  can get through… or not.  Jimmy Cliff's theme song with it's refrain: "You can get it if you really want. But you must try, try, and try, try and try. You'll succeed at last" is the promise but it is also an illusion. An illusion you would die for rather than give up on. 


In my work I try to explore the fluid boundaries between difference and sameness, a theme to which I think the current pandemic lends a unique perspective. This pandemic has exposed our shared fragility. But fragility is relative: We are all in the same situation and yet we are not. Our individual experiences depend on highly different political, economic and social realities. We are suffering individually but we have a set of circumstances that transcend the binary of difference and sameness and bring into focus the scope of experiences "in-between".  It is these experiences "in-between" that I try to capture in my art.  What separates us also connects us. 


My art falls somewhat outside the norm, but I guess that's only fitting. I am the outsider. The one you see on the boat full of illegal immigrants. The one you see on the dance floor in Berlin. In the streets of Cairo, in Henningsvær, Lofoten. That's me. I belong to all these places where you recognize me as the outsider.


A child of Jamaican and Canadian parents, I grew up first in Germany and then Jamaica. I was perceived of as an oddity, and my experience was that of a perpetual misfit. This "othering" inevitably led me to withdraw. It did, however, also invite empowerment through the acceptance of self as different. I think this was the beginning of my journey as an artist - as a child refracting the gaze of others.


We all have a cast of characters that define our lives. My cast is the cast of the outsider. Never really belonging in one place or another but instead belonging in the place of in between. A place of vulnerable and thin- skinned people. Searching and in transit, but also fierce. A place with a strength of it's own.


This collection, with selected works from as early as 2013 to current works from 2021, reflects my journey. It investigates themes of isolation and identity as well as individuality. These paintings can also be read as an appeal for hope and humor in the face of cynicism and despair.

 - Zoya Taylor