Exhibit Review in ‘Art In America’

From ‘Art In America’, February 2002, by Joe Fyfe:

Frank Holliday at Debs & Co.

In Frank Holliday’s recent show, title “Trippin’ in America,” Jackson Pollock’s emotive automatism seemed to be in joyous, campy collision with an unabashed belief in the power of hallucination. Holliday has been exhibiting since 1980, plunging in and out of abstraction; he has also spent time working for Disney studios, and there’s a family resemblance between his new work and the animated painterliness and intense chromatics of Fantasia.

The paintings range from 2 by 3 feet to 8 feet square. Colors are turned up loud, and the surfaces are sticky and shiny, like a sweaty body at a light show. Though the work is gestural, something of a painting program is followed. Holliday always appears to begin with feathery, illusionistic brushstrokes that suggest an expansive, cinematic space and then improvises over them with a repertoire of painterly conventions.

Dayafter (2001), an 8-foot-square canvas, is dominated by ruby reds and swimming-pool turquoises. Much grandiose painting business is imposed on top of a large blue spiral enclosing washy green transparencies. For the foreground, Holliday borrows painting tropes such as pouring and turning the canvas until ladderlike sideways rivulets form (à la Polke), or utilizing a faux-Zen twisting splash (a Motherwell specialty), or creating a kind of “comb” by making a short arc with a brush loaded with runny paint and letting the extended “teeth” run download in parallel drips (in the manner of Pat Steir). This last mark seems to arrive toward the end of the painting, as if making a curtain call from one of the edges.

In Holliday’s bigger pours, such as the massive red that rises from the bottom edge to the center of Dayafter, the paint is so thick that it puckers in places or sags like old skin. There are also moves he makes that are almost too funky. In a number of paintings, he uses white paint suspended in a transparent medium so that it hits the canvas like a broken egg. I’m also not sure about Holliday’s thick black brushstroke that weights everything down, looping through the compositions like a poisonous umbilical cord or an oily intestine. Still, these are quibbles about work that is capable of being very beautiful. Again and again, Holliday impresses with his ability to push past taste and enact a fantasy in paint, come what may.

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