The series of monochrome paintings over which Frank splashes and pours varnish in varying degrees of thickness and viscosity have formed a significant strand of his practice in the 1990s. The formal character of the monochrome and its suggestion of the early twentieth century avant-garde and its various later incarnations is tempered by the thick layer of reflective varnish. Rather than sealing the surface and protecting the paint, the resin remains an active element of the work after it leaves the studio. Continuing to run and change as it slowly solidifies, it draws attention to the material nature of the painting.
This materiality is only one element of how Frank's work engages with the viewer. Drawn to the shiny, wet and even erotic surface of the works, we are reflected in them; caught in the moment of exchange between artist/work/audience that generates meaning. The attraction/repulsion of their gothic colouring and sticky visceral surfaces also tempers any easy reading as exercises in beauty or style, despite these elements also being important in Frank's practice.
Frank's titles add a further element to the engagement with his works. These paintings are entitled after the famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking. Hawking is renowned for his work on Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and the implication that space and time would have begun in the Big Bang and end in black holes. Hawking's writings on vast time and distances are also perhaps referred to in 'Stephen Hawking and the problem of size', as well as suggesting a slightly acerbic reference to Hawkings own diminutive height. While Frank's paintings are blue black in colour and one has a starry constellation of nodes in the varnish, too close an analogy should not be drawn. Frank himself has used quantum physics terms in describing his work as when he said "My work is not isolated to illusionistic practice or to material approach. It has always traversed all realities - creating if you like, a worm-hole across materials, approaches and possible meanings and content." (interview with Sue Cramer, Dale Frank: Ecstasy, MCA catalogue).
synthetic polymer paint and varnish on canvas
200.0 x 260.0 cm
Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2001
© Dale Frank
Shown in 1 exhibition
Unpainting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 16 Sep 2017–12 Aug 2018
Referenced in 2 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2002, 'Year in review', pg. 8-25, Sydney, 2002, 12.
Donna Brett, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Expression and the figure', pg.108-153, Sydney, 2006, 126 (colour illus.).