Wesley's Turtle Neck and Turtle Head
200 x 200 cm
Private Collection, Auckland
Devon Is My Favourite Luncheon Meat, Gow Langsford Gallery, 2012 Purchased from the above exhibition by the current owner
There was a time when abstract art was new territory in this country. What was a frontier is now occupied in many forms. There was also a time when a big exhibition by an Australian artist would have been a rare event. The work by Dale Frank at the Gow Langsford Gallery would once have been something new in subject and material.
The show, Devon Is My Favourite Luncheon Meat, is surprising only for the sheer size of the work. Frank's style is well-known: abstractions in thick, highly coloured resin varnish. The medium allows him to achieve colours of great intensity and a highly polished surface. The fluidity of the varnish enables him to mix colours in huge, interacting swirls and contrast these with linear, dripped trails. It is a dazzling form of abstract impressionism and the results are symphonic in a vividly visual, lollipop way. Any solemnity is tempered by the improvised quality of the forms and by the titles. The titles are less indecent than previously, but still have the feeling of afterthoughts rather than a statement of intent. Wesley's Turtle Neck and Turtle Head has bold, thrusting forms that reach across the picture space.
The paintings are spectacularly colourful and one of their great merits is the sense the viewer has of participation in the multitude of decisions involved in their making. Although every form has an unpredictable originality, one is constantly reminded of a controlling mind at work with huge experience in this unusual medium. The seven works are hung together as one huge mural. This adds to the overall impact, but emphasises the lack of a distinctly individual atmosphere in each one.
TJ McNamara: From the Sublime to the Meticulous NZ Herald, 4 March 2012