Frank Holliday’s SEE/SAW at Mucciaccia Gallery in NYC

by Christopher Hart Chambers

Frank Holliday, SEE/SAW installation view
Frank Holliday, SEE/SAW installation view

In his essay for the catalog of this exhibition, the curator, legendary critic Carter Ratcliff states, “If the painting is non-figurative it does not, by definition, show us any figures and yet it faces us with a human presence.” That is perhaps the most succinct and accurate insight regarding the intrinsic nature of abstract art I have yet come across.

Painting might be viewed as a destructive act. Starting with the perfection of the blank page, with each subsequent mark the artist violently berates the unfolding image until it is utterly betrayed – until its obliteration is complete. Thus it attains a new perfection that a single further gesture would fracture. It is an old adage that knowing when a painting is finished is the painter’s most difficult decision. One more stroke and the balance has been shifted////altered opening a Pandora’s box of new possibilities – like starting over again from a more complicated scratch. It is also possible to imply a shape or color by/// via its absence. Put that last piece of the puzzle in place and perfection is attained once again, while stifling the life out of the composition. But, one stroke shy and the image is animate. The artist may juggle the tensions and balances of a composition so the entire surface appears to slide off to the left or explode up top, or blow outwards from the surface directly into the room, blasting the viewer. But, Holliday’s pieces are often gaseous and ephemeral. They are obstinately void of form; insistently non referential. 

Frank Holliday, SEE/SAW installation view
Frank Holliday, SEE/SAW installation view

These oil paintings comprise swooshing, choppy and scumbled, aggressive brushstrokes and earthen, chalky, glowing, or bloody coloration. Essentially, the entire litany; the meat and potatoes, of abstract expressionistic painting to date. 

Obvious precedents were established by Jackson Pollack, Joan Mitchell, Willem DeKooning. Yet, Holliday does not appear to be adhering to the Greenbergian philosophy of heroic painting as an object unto itself. Holliday’s works strive to “live” and emanate presence. The problem with subtlety is that it’s well, subtle. To successfully achieve this suite of “complete” paintings is a remarkable achievement, given the mandates the painter has set himself. For, these are truly “abstract “ paintings. The expressive depiction of the works is the various moods of the human condition. Like diaristic relics of a day. 

Resisting imagery is no easy feat. Cloud gazing is an evolutionary survival mechanism: finding referential////reflective imagery or animalistic faces – faces; eyes and teeth – where none exist, startling at movement flickering along a periphery. Humankind’s imagination and intelligence rely on associations of seemingly unrelated forms and getting spooked in the night has kept us alive and allowed us to evolve to this day. Therefore, Frank Holliday’s acceptance of pure abstract thought simultaneously represents a defiance of this natural instinct and embrace of primal emotion, as well as “spiritual” synthesis -seeing, feeling “ God’s” glow in yellow sunshine and blue shadows; as per impressionism, or the darkened voids. 

Frank Holliday, SEE/SAW installation view
Frank Holliday, SEE/SAW installation view

RED SELLS: taking advantage of mankind’s color theory in both its psychological implications (red sells), blue is mysterious (because it appears to recede into our atmosphere- and is therefore a relaxing shade), hot and cool hues = danger or safety; bliss) as well as their illusionistic properties – red optically jumps forward because it represents heat, blood, and danger, therefore excitement (which is why it “sells”), blue is deep; golden yellow establishes a stably royal, or neutral platform; spatially perceptual to man. These are our basic haptic observational environmental tendencies in tandem with the emotional responses provoked by the primary colors invoked to humans. Other tones combine the above to various affects. I doubt Frank Holliday consciously pre-thought his use of color in specific passages in order to precede specific responses; it was more of an intuitive emotive thing . . .  he employed juxtapositions of colors enjoining moods and emotive response instinctually directing expansive properties; insistently destroying recognizable imagery, in order to communicate mood only – not illustratively, such as,”oh, I will make a sad or happy picture,” employing A, B, C, or D, like a book of tricky techniques – these were used intuitively with absence of conscious intention. And THAT is why this work is relevant to the human condition, today, yesterday, forever. Each mark is the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end of the . . . .

Hey, I haven’t really described the paintings. Just look at the photos.

Apollonia Vanova’s Sleepover Gallery in Toronto

by Emese Krunák-Hajagos

Artist Lumír Hladík on left and Darren Gallery’s owner Apollonia Vanova. Photo, Yianni Tongh

EKH: Darren Gallery is reopening after, as you’ve said, a long and painful renovation with a new concept: Sleepover Art Gallery. Where did this idea come from?

AV: The sleepover gallery concept came about from a variety of factors.  It’s difficult to sell art, as it’s not a life necessity and not a surprise when galleries close down after a few years. Continue reading “Apollonia Vanova’s Sleepover Gallery in Toronto”

Points of Engagement

by D. Dominick Lombardi

Irene Rousseau (American, born 1941), Visual Symphony: Stretching the, Space, 2019, Oil on canvas, pen and ink, 36 x 36 x 1 1/2 in., Courtesy of the artist, ©2020 Irene Rousseau

The success of an exhibition, or any work of art for that matter, is its ability to engage the viewer. Engagement can be a bit more difficult to achieve when you eliminate any sort of representation, as with the current exhibition at the Hofstra Museum of Art, Uncharted: American Abstraction in the Information Age. Continue reading “Points of Engagement”

Janghan Choi at the Korean Cultural Center in Tenafly, New Jersey

by Thalia Vrachopoulos, Ph.D.

Human evolution II

Choi’s multifaceted installations employ the abstracted human form in movement as sign language thus demonstrating a relationship to collective memory and Jungian archetypes, and in their essentialized forms, to cave painting also. Human Evolution I, 2019 which a triptych of neutral background with navy and puce colored signs and a central tondo with rune-like shapes, reveals the artist’s interest in pre-historic cultures. Continue reading “Janghan Choi at the Korean Cultural Center in Tenafly, New Jersey”

A Few of My Favorite Things: An Eclectic Show

by Siba Kumar Das

Richard Humann, Sirenic Cauldron

The Elga Wimmer favorites on display in her Chelsea gallery from December 7-21, 2019 are an eclectic group. But they also embody a unifying theme. What unites them is this:  Conceptualism is still an important force but ideas must go hand in hand with physical product.

Richard Humann exemplifies the adventurousness of a neo-Conceptual artist who has taken to the technology of Augmented Reality to push viewers into a new artistic frontier – as The New York Times’ Ted Loos suggested on November 27, 2019 in a review of an AR show projected above the High Line. That projection threw up 12 imaginary constellations in the sky. Continue reading “A Few of My Favorite Things: An Eclectic Show”

High + Low: A Forty-Five Year Retrospective of D. Dominick Lombardi 1975 – 2019

by Antje K. Gamble

High + Low: A Forty-Five Year Retrospective of D. Dominick Lombardi 1975 – 2019, installation view at the Clara M. Eagle Gallery, Murray State University, Murray, KY

Curated by T. Michael Martin, the large retrospective at the Clara M. Eagle Gallery allowed for a deep look at the shifts throughout D. Dominick Lombardi’s almost five decade long career. From the more Surrealist inspired paintings to assemblage sculptures, High + Low engages with Lombardi’s playful experimentation of art and found materials and highbrow and lowbrow visual references.

The installation of High + Low at the Murray State University Eagle Gallery created cross-decade perspectives on developing themes in Lombardi’s work. (For full disclosure, I am on the faculty of Murray State University.) Continue reading “High + Low: A Forty-Five Year Retrospective of D. Dominick Lombardi 1975 – 2019”

Seeing, Believing and Understanding

by D. Dominick Lombardi

Brandon Donahue. Rest in Peace, 2019 (detail). Airbrush acrylic on panel, 96 x 144 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Brandon Donahue. Photo: LeXander Bryant
Omari Booker. The Writing’s on the Walls, 2019. Housewrap, oil, plastic tubing, razor wire, and sand on panel, 96 x 144 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Omari Booker. Photo: LeXander Bryant

The Frist Art Museum in Nashville does two things remarkably well. Like other capitol city museums throughout the United States, they present fully resolved, educational exhibitions filled with extraordinary works of art supported by thoughtful text and labeling. Continue reading “Seeing, Believing and Understanding”

José Manuel Ciria’s Beautiful Day with a Small Storm

by Steve Rockwell

The exhibition A Beautiful Day with a Small Storm at the Christopher Cutts Gallery is a unique one. A month before its opening in June, the paintings by Madrid artist José Manuel Ciria were a mere glimmer in the artist’s eye. The works were in fact created in a studio directly above the exhibition space. In that sense, what is on display has descended from above, their generation a touch miraculous in the speed of their execution.  

José Manuel Ciria in studio at Christopher Cutts Gallery, 2019

Ciria exudes the personable confidence of someone who is at ease in his own skin. This is a way of saying that Ciria inhabits his work, and that the life and breath of his canvases are closely woven into the artist’s own persona. Continue reading “José Manuel Ciria’s Beautiful Day with a Small Storm”