Heart & Soul
Last year, Partners & Mucciaccia presented a solo exhibition of American artist Frank Holliday in Singapore. Curated by Tom Cugliani, the show – the artist’s first in Asia – was held at the gallery’s Gillman Barracks space with forty-one works on display.
Holliday’s career as an artist began in the early 1980s with graffiti-heavy works. He began experimenting with watercolours on a trip to Sydney, Australia in the 2000s, where he found himself removed from the familiar confines of a studio space and presented with the great outdoors. The works on display at the exhibition featured oil on canvas and linen works that emerged from this turning point.
In making his works, Holliday, who has been an academic at Parsons The New School for Design for the better part of the last decade, is deeply interested in colour theory, especially how colours evoke feelings. It is easy to become lost in his mesmerizingly colour-filled large-scale paintings. To Holliday, his job as a painter is to incite a visceral reaction from the audience, and this can be a positive or a negative feeling.
The titles of Holliday’s paintings, such as Trailing A Violet Haze (2013) and Heart and Soul (2014), are invitations to the viewer to look closer and appreciate them on their own terms. These are lines that the artist has saved from songs he has heard and poems he has read. “The titles are to give the audience permission to be romantic and visual about the painting. I want people to fall into it and make up stories and personal narratives," says Holliday.
To Holliday, the act of painting is an extension of the body and its movements through space. A former ballet dancer who attended the Juilliard School as a teenager, he took up acting in 2006. These experiences have shaped his approach to making art.
He says, “The painting is my scene partner. I sit here and it says paint the corner yellow so I get up and do so. And then it becomes this whole improvisation that I did not plan. Something breaks open. You want that moment where it goes beyond who you are."