Look at the surfaces though, slick as they are! Juicy, sensuous, slathering, dripping and pooling of monochromatic shades of colour appear as if suspended or trapped in a moment of time. This is the trick though because in reality the paintings were composed by the artist manipulating flows of varnish from underneath at periodic intervals as they coagulated and dried during a protracted period of time. In fact we are looking at a series of symphonic colour shows frozen at their apex by the conductor. Revealed are the possibilities inherent in the nexus of artistic choice and the deft manipulation of materials based on Frank's extensive knowledge of their behaviour. The picture gallery below depicts the beautifully enigmatic and sensitive nature of the more monochromatic paintings that have appeared in Franks oeuvre periodically over many years.
These new works are opalescent in quality, analogous of blurry underwater or foggy/smoky scenes in some strange netherworld. There is a continuation of that beautiful, sensuous and often diaphanous flow of muted colour swirling across each surface. The difference with this series of paintings is the introduction of a wavering and sometimes almost indistinct horizon line moving through what appears to be a background. This changes Franks methodology from flat paintings sans depth to paintings that at least introduce a sense of spatial depth onto the picture plane. It appears to me that figuration is attempting to elbow its way into these new works as allusive as they are and i feel this must be intentional on the part of the artist.
The introduction of gold frames takes Frank full circle back into the history of "framed art" and the politics of "framing" a picture. Is this an attempt at creating distinct fictions or simply a device that the artist felt conducive to featuring the qualities in the work. Or is it a joke, a sly jab at the world of "high art" which for the most part has embraced his work and given him the success he enjoys today. This, in the face of what some critics have called an art "empty" of content, superfluous, "eye candy" for the aesthete and for the most part irrelevant in this "digital age."
Whatever the artists intention, these are enigmatic and paradoxical paintings but at the same time optically distinct and unique. Give credit where it is due, as i think Frank has managed to pull another rabbit out of the hat in addition to extending the current dialogue on "painting." These pictures are a departure from his previous work yet they remain true to the "ethos" of "pure" painting. Frank understands the issues in painting that make it both a difficult yet necessary practice in an impersonal age of "new media." The artist is always ready with sardonic witty titles for his works that befuddle but his belief is in the creation of handmade paintings that totally involve the artists sensibility and humanity.
Download this balanced review from Art Guide about Dale Frank.
Frank is a reminder of the inventive potential of painting and a demonstration of why it'll never disappear. I admire his tenacity and belief in the painting project. I also admire his moments of calm (lucidity?) where his paintings take on an ethereal quality that is hard to define. For me, these paintings in particular set up a mysterious vibration that is hard to turn away from.
Below are some links with informative reviews of Dale Frank's work.