SCHUBERT   Art Galleries Schubert  CONTEMPORARY



Dale Frank

New Works

Official Opening Friday June 20, 2008



“The thoughts, the marks you make in silence can be the most powerful of all Mafia.” i


Over his 30 working years Dale Frank has worn many hats and as often as not, simultaneously: painter, draughtsman, sculptor, photographer, film maker and performance artist. Continuing to define new ground between minimalist, conceptual and expressive conventions, his recent paintings present as deep spatial fields - sumptuously coloured and very glossy. The epic scale and intention of these works promotes a wonderfully immersive environment. Akin to the film medium, they have a power to completely absorb the viewer’s consciousness. 


As in the tradition of romantic landscape painting, the swirling tides of tinted varnish seem to convey the very forces of nature. Although the titles themselves encourage such associations, Frank rejects literal translation and any notion of pictorial sentimentality. In an interview with Serena Bentley late last year, he elaborated: “People read things into them. There is an electricity when they try to connect them [the titles] to the paintings... you get a current going between the title, the viewer and the work.”


Independent of literal meaning, these huge plasma-like abstractions confront the senses. The uncontrolled look is deceptive. Dale Frank is investigating the very essence of painting itself. In the 90’s he began experimenting with commercial varnishes and the complex chemical reactions that occur when certain pigments are added. Ever alert to new creative possibilities, he observed at least twelve responses that he was eventually able to replicate at will. For Dale Frank, colour in its liquid form is “a living entity”. Poured onto the horizontal canvas surface, luminous pools of pigmented varnish immediately begin to resist and coalesce; the viscosity and drying times determined by seasonal temperatures and humidity. As further layers are added, the angle and direction of the varnish flows are controlled by the manipulation of wedges and blocks placed beneath the painting. “It is a totally hands on and cerebral way of painting,” declares Frank. “Much more intense than a half-centimetre brush and tubes of oil paint. The process can take up to 24 hours where I have to be permanently standing over the painting, constantly considering every minute aspect.”


Born 1959, Dale Frank is generally regarded as having the longest CV of any Australian artist. His artistic career began in 1975 when the then 16 year old was awarded the Red Cross Art Award by John Olsen. Just five years later, and displaying a confidence beyond his years, Frank had solo exhibitions in Dublin, Budapest and Milan and, in the following year, in London, New York, Bologna and Perth. Back in Australia commercial success was matched with curatorial and critical acclaim: in 1982 he was included in the 4th Biennale of Sydney, and in 1983 his work was selected for show at Museo Palazzo Lanfranchi in Pisa, Italy. In that same year his work featured at Melbourne University gallery and in Perspecta ’83 at the Art Gallery of NSW. His inclusion in Australian Art – an American Perspective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and at the 1984 Venice Biennale cemented Frank’s international reputation. Since the 90’s Frank has continued to exhibit extensively in Australia. In 2000 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney held a survey exhibition of his work titled Ecstasy: 20 years of painting, and that same year he had a solo show in the Project Space at the Art Gallery of NSW. In 2005 he won the Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize at the Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria. A major new monograph; So Far the Art of Dale Frank 2005 – 1980 was released last year.


i. Excerpt from an email to Ashley Crawford for ART WORLD magazine, Issue 1, 2008



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