Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s–1990s, a major retrospective at Singapore's National Gallery (14 June–15 September 2019), opens emphatically in flames. At the exhibition's entrance, viewers encounter a wall-sized image from 1964 titled Burning Canvases Floating on the River. The photograph captures a performance by Lee Seung-taek, in which...
When the London-born artist Thomas J Price graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts in 2004, the school's college art prize was by no means his most notable accomplishment as an emerging artist. In 2001, Price presented his much-talked-about work Licked, a daring performance, later profiled on the BBC 4 television...
Without punctuation, She Said Why Me, the title of May Fung's 1989 video presents itself as a statement, rather than a question. It suggests a subject who expects no response, a person prepared to make what she can from being chosen though perplexed by the attention. The video follows a blindfolded woman, then unmasked, through late colonial-era...
Exhibition view of DALE FRANK's solo exhibition at Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, 2017. (Front) Warszawa, 2016, mixed white human hair on Perspex, 200 × 200 × 8 cm. Courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.
Entering Dale Frank’s solo exhibition at Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong was comparable to stepping into a parallel universe where shapes are distorted and luminescent colors reign supreme. It was an alienating yet simultaneously engaging experience that clearly exemplified Frank’s own philosophy toward distancing himself from his works. Once completed, his sculptural paintings take on a life of its own, and Frank considers them completely independent of himself. He also believes that a 'painting doesn’t have to speak,' a sentiment expressed in the exhibition’s catalogue. The viewer is not meant to look for profound meaning within his works, but instead, is encouraged to consider the works as they are.
Controversial and uncompromising in his penchant for offbeat and confrontational gestures, Australian contemporary artist Dale Frank has divided critics and public alike over the past three decades. His practice is wide-ranging—from documentary films to eccentric performances—but today Frank is best known for his large-scale biomorphic abstract paintings and reflective resin paintings that challenge traditional notions of the medium.
Beginning to attract attention while still in his teens in the late 1970s, Frank spent ten years in Europe and the United States, returning to Australia in 1988. The beginning of his career was dominated by performance-based work; a notable early example took place in the late 1970s in Italy, where gallery-goers were presented with the then-teenage artist's legs and leather shoes dangling through a hatch in the ceiling.
Later in his career, Frank began exploring sculpture and installation and, eventually, painting. His current painting method involves pouring and brushing on several layers of thick varnish and colour pigments or clear resin, which sometimes embed colour glitter and studio detritus. These distinctive paintings do not depict anything identifiable, but rather are an exploration of different materials, movements and colours. Occasionally, he also includes readymade and industrial elements, such as construction foam, automotive paint, brightly coloured artificial hair (Dale dug another hole ) or silver foil air-ducts (She was a collector of the best Art even though she relied on Emirates points to maintain her lifestyle ). Given their unusual materials, Frank's paintings are not static objects; the materials can settle, react and produce structural changes even once they have left his studio. In recent years, the artist has replaced his usual canvas surface with Perspex, its reflective nature adding another layer to the work.
Provocative titles are often important to Frank's paintings, for example: Roslyn is the difference between Qantas gold and platinum or He always bought funeral insurance for all his boyfriends (both 2018). Sometimes the titles themselves are lengthy, self-contained narratives, with no apparent connection to the works to which they are attached. These lengthy interludes disrupt attempts to read specific meanings into the paintings themselves.
Interactive performance and installation remains an important part of Frank's career. In 1995, in lieu of showing paintings, the artist staged a disco—including fog machines and a mirror ball—at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney, and titled the exhibition Dale, I'm only dancing. For his 2018 installation Ghost Story at the same gallery, Frank covered the walls and ceilings in reflective Mylar fabric lit with LED lights and presented petri dishes containing his personal bacteria, which grew into a dangerous state in agar.
Dale Frank was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, in 2002. He was selected for the Biennale of Sydney in 1990 and 2010, and in 1984 he was included in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. His works are held in major private and public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Kunsthaus, Zürich; and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2005, Frank was awarded the Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize from Bendigo Art Gallery.
Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present a solo exhibition featuring all-new work by Australian artist Dale Frank (b. 1959). The exhibition at the Pedder Building will comprise of sixteen works all completed in 2016. The works on display demonstrate Frank’s continued exploration of the potential of painting, using materials recognised previously in his work, including varnish, glass, and resin, alongside newer additions to the artist’s practice including fire retardant foam, compression foam, and human hair.
Dale Frank initially became known in the art world through his performances and assemblages, but throughout his career, he has experimented with different materials in order to challenge the concept of painting by embracing the full chemical and physical transformative process of the medium. While the artist engages in the physical process of creating his works, he believes that each has a life and lifespan of its own that is created as a result.
Many of the new works on display incorporate the artist’s long-standing use of pigmented varnishes, which have been poured, melted, and folded to create abstract images. Widely recognised for his use of bright colours, the pigments on display are rich and intense, ranging from acrid pink to cobalt blue. Also at the gallery will be a number of works that show coloured resin and liquid glass utilised in a similar way. The pigments and resin used by Dale Frank are bound to Perspex, which, spatially and conceptually, add a new dimension to his work. Although he previously worked on canvas, Frank found that the reflective nature of Perspex alters the paint quality, with the resins and pigments appearing to cascade down the work’s façade.
In other works demonstrative of recent developments in the artist’s practice, Frank has used shattered glass, fire retardant foam, and compression foam on Perspex, adding a sculptural quality to these works, which are then coated in Harlequin paint, colour resins, and varnish. A build-up of these materials suggests celestial typographies while re-examining the very nature of painting and what constitutes it. Also on display will be a work that sees the use of human hair in a similarly sculptural fashion, with extension pieces creating a cascade of monochromatic forms along the surface.
“From the very beginning, my work has been premised on the notion that the art produced is independent of myself. Paintings tend to be more interested in pointing out how they exist, act, and ‘live’ beyond the realm of human perception, a paradox of sorts given the contrived nature of artworks.”
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