The real reason why artwork by Frank Holliday evokes a wordless joy in us

Frank Holliday
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The Holliday Season

At once, artwork by Frank Holliday is a wordless joy to behold.

“The best way forward into Frank Holliday’s language-deprived landscape," the art dealer Tom Cugliani once wrote, “is for the viewer to patiently trust his/her eye. I say patiently because we are in no rush; once having captured our gaze, the painting will not readily release it." Local art enthusiasts who caught Holliday’s solo exhibition at Partners & Mucciaccia Singapore in 2015 will no doubt agree.

To view the American artist’s paintings is an illuminating experience that promises to draw every viewer in. His somewhat wry pronouncement that his work exists “somewhere between the Holiday Inn and the Louvre" belies his powerful use of expressive brushstrokes and a sensuous palette. These are abstract paintings that remain enticingly suggestive – the depiction of a landscape and its depth, space and solid forms, for instance, are only subtly implied on canvas. Looking at the big picture, Holliday’s work is intimate and complex, but always leaves enough space for each viewer’s imagination.

At the same time, Holliday’s own narrative is intricately woven into his work. It’s possible to sense a rebellious or even iconoclastic streak from his early days spent partying at Club 57, exhibiting his paintings in Manhattan’s East Village, working at Andy Warhol’s Factory and conversing with Jean-Michel Basquiat. So, too, has his characteristic style been strongly influenced by a recuperative trip to Australia, where he experienced an enormous sense of revitalisation from working in watercolour, directly from landscapes in the outdoors.

Holliday’s artistic evolution has been a lengthy and often exhaustive journey, stretching from his formative years in the North Carolina School of the Arts, through to his present-day Bushwick studio in Brooklyn.

Partners & Mucciaccia Singapore

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Published 25th October 2017