The paintings of celebrated contemporary Australian artist Dale Frank have long mesmerised viewers, their characteristically colourful surfaces at once seductive and sublime. Over a successful international career spanning four decades, Frank has continuously experimented with the conceptual and formal properties of paint, asking first: how does paint move? And then: how does painting move us? Mounted across both gallery spaces, Gow Langsford Gallery presents a new body of work painted on mirrored Perspex, emphasising the physical experience of his paintings.
Dominated by a vivid palette, Frank’s Part Colour-field, part Gestural Abstraction paintings are formed by the artist’s signature technique. Here, layers of colour are poured over specific locations of the horizontal surface; allowed in some cases to flow into each other creating other colours and patterns. Then the surface image is removed, the paint pulled across the flat surface with varying degrees of pressure and force. This allows some areas to continue to meld together, other areas are left with a ghost shadow of the original markings and colour. The process is then repeated in some areas again, and then repeated again, over the course of many hours. The final image is the result of the elimination of many previous images. A layering of ghosts, a layering of past intentions removed, new instated, shadows all revealed to varying degrees. The final image is the paradox of the elimination of the artist’s creative process and labour through time.
More than the sum of their formal parts, Frank sees his paintings as independent, living entities - half expecting them to get up and walk out of his studio when his back is turned. The apparently gooey surface nods to this metaphor, the varnish becoming the artist’s infamous viscera of the painting-as-body. The recent adoption of mirrored Perspex as a favoured support has allowed Frank to further explore the physicality of painting, while lending them an almost sci-fi edge. As if by chance, areas of the support are left bare, revealing the mirrored surface beneath. Walking past we catch a glimpse of our own bodies, and realise Frank has found a way to physically incorporate the viewer.
Accompanied by the often erotic titles, seemingly transgressing the narratives of the mundane, otherworldly personal alternative universes, that Frank is known for, these abstract works are body paintings and celebrations colour and paint alike.