Smells Like Victory

Reviews Jun 11, 2004 No Comments

Dale Frank’s house was recently the subject of a spread in Belle Magazine. We’re not sure what we were expecting, probably something like the Kurtz compound in Apocalypse Now, with the bodies of anti-Frank critics hanging from trees with slaves carrying canvases to the artist’s studio for ritual sacrifice, but it turns out that Frank is, perhaps not very surprisingly, a fan of the baroque/rococo look – a Demir-Leather-meets-70s-period-JohnCoote-Furniture-Warehouse style done tastefully. Of most interest in the spread were photos of his studio that featured discarded CDs encased in centimeter-thick varnish that has oozed off the canvases and on to the floor.

Frank has a show at Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery until June 26 which has the best title of any show anywhere right now: Modern Art Paintings For Sale.

That’s what’s on offer – modern paintings – and not only are they incredibly beautiful, eye-popping, candy-coated and bursting with life, they are also carrying ideas and concepts which the likes of us can only barely begin to understand. We must acknowledge Frank’s ambition. Too few artists have ambition these days – and by that we don’t just mean to have an ambition make great art – but to become truly great, to become the Emperor Of France, to be cloaked in Ermine, to smote your enemies, then call in the conflagrating air strike that will send your crazy kingdom all to hell. We’re talking about an ambition that is positively Dalinian and, as elucidated in unblushing prose in the room notes, it is taking Frank’s art from the merely ambitious to the stratospherically inspired:

“The new work marks a point in Dale Frank’s twenty-five year artistic career spent questioning, redefining and ultimately transcending conventional perceptions of “beauty” in art, through his challenging work.

“Frank’s latest paintings propose a new concept of beauty through his purposeful introduction of scientific principles to colour selections. The artist no longer works from the laws of the Renaissance colour wheel, but with quantum physics, exploring the idea of “reaction” as opposed to graduating colours and the relationship of “time” to the processes involved in creating his work. Frank’s colour techniques are a tool for the new language of painting and the manifestation of “image” as a forceful visual weapon.

“Luscious pinks, reds, purples, greens, blues and yellows are bled into the transparent varnishes he uses. This intuitively devised palette has a seductive velvety translucency activated by movements of colour created by gravity’s forces.”

What Frank has done in these works is to almost remove pigment entirely from his process and use varnish alone (although there are some works with a combination of both). What you get are translucent surfaces that are slightly tinted and then built up to get stronger and stronger colours. The effect is mesmerizing. Some of the works are duds too, with muted colours and are visually not that exciting, but the winners bounce off the wall like a Super ball. No review of a Dale Frank show could pass without mentioning the titles of his works, worth the price of admission alone – our favourite: Remember Fortune Cookie Road 5. It only takes one man’s sperm, in one night, to be able to re-populate the entire world once over in his own image.It only takes one man’s sperm, in one night, to be able to re-populate in his own image more than the entire, 2004

Andrew Frost

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