Gow Langsford Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Australian artist Dale Frank. Frank, who first exhibited in New Zealand in 1997, has an international career that has spanned more than 20 years. The breadth of his practice was recently showcased in an extensive monograph on the artist entitled So Far: the Art of Dale Frank 1980 - 2005, released by Schwartz City Publishing in 2007. Through more than 400 pages of full colour illustrations, the monograph follows Frank’s early performance works of the 1980s, his experimentation with traditionally ‘non-art’ materials, through to his more recent varnish works. For his 2008 exhibition with Gow Langsford Gallery, Frank presents a number his large-scale varnish paintings. They are dark and luscious, and demonstrate the artist’s mastery of the resin technique that he has been exploring over the past several years.
Like the action painting explored in 1940s and 1950s America, Frank’s varnish works feature large fields of abstract colour combinations in which the artist’s body and its movement around the canvas, determine the final work. Like these earlier works, Frank initially lays his canvases horizontally, and pours and drips resin onto the canvas from above. Rather than random combinations and compositions based on chance however, Frank’s works are in fact carefully considered and composed. The creation of his paintings is a slow and measured process of tipping the canvas at intervals, allowing the paint to travel, pool and coalesce, colours combining in often psychedelic swirls. The outcome of the works relies on Frank’s thorough knowledge of his materials and his control of elements such as humidity and reaction times. Even when the works have ‘set’, their oozing liquidity and the glossiness of their surfaces lends the impression that the paintings may still be evolving: advancing around the canvas at a glacial pace.
While Frank’s paintings are abstract, the titles of his works introduce a narrative element. They have in the past referred to landscapes or journeys. Currently, they present poetic narrative statements that could represent snippets of conversation or more metaphysical truths. Frank’s current work is also, on the whole, darker in tone than previous works. Many of the works in this current exhibition feature shards of jewel-like colour which suddenly appear out of their dark glossy surrounds. Others are more subtle, with similar tones gradually bleeding into one another creating a marbled effect. While each painting is a beautiful physical object, they also offer hidden depths, and a beguiling tension between surface, depth and content.
Dale Frank (b.1959) is one of Australia’s leading contemporary painters. He has exhibited extensively both in Australia and overseas since the early 1980s. His first exhibition in New Zealand was a touring solo exhibition at Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, the Govett-Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth and City Gallery, Wellington. In 1984 he was included in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. In 1990 he was included in the 8th Biennale of Sydney (curated by Rene Block) and a major solo retrospective of his work was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney in 2000. Frank’s paintings are held in every major public collection in Australia and in numerous private and corporate collections in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the U.S.A.