Posts Tagged ‘Dale Frank


Review: ‘The Big Black Bubble’ exhibition of paintings by Dale Frank at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 12th March  – 11th April 2009


“The immersive scale of these new paintings at Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne allows us to experience their inner qualities of landscape and of transformation. This is painting at fundamental authenticity. The paint is its own agent; it is allowed to act, to behave. The artist is the facilitator of these phenomena of nature and natural forces, whose residue is a metaphor for nature itself.

Black contains all colours, contours and depths. A pink monochrome is transformed by pure varnish into an expressionistic moment of process and performance. All colour is absent from elemental silver aluminium and form and gesture alone survive. New dynamics are possible through an innovative colouration: the emergence of colour through black, and its equivalent power.

Dale Frank’s painting is one of poetry, performance and nature. It represents both the macro and micro. Huge universal forces pulsate with molecular, atomic activities. Imagination is gifted by the artist to the viewer. These are our paintings to create.”

Anonymous text from the exhibition flyer.


Dale Frank. 'The Big Black Bubble' installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne 2009


Dale Frank
‘The Big Black Bubble’ installation view
Left to right: ‘Timothy Oliphant’ (2008), ‘Ryan Gosling’ (2008/2009) and ‘Matthew Macfadyen’ (2008)


Dale Frank. 'The Big Black Bubble' installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne 2009


Dale Frank
‘The Big Black Bubble’ installation view
Left to right: ‘Daniel Radcliffe’ (2008/2009), ‘Khan Chittenden’ (2009) and ‘Rupert Grint’ (2008/2009)


This is a brilliant exhibition by Dale Frank, one of my favourites so far this year in Melbourne.

Six large varnish on linen landscape paintings are presented in the beautiful Anna Schwartz gallery space in Melbourne. Photographs really do not do the paintings justice – they can only give an impression of the size and scale of the work but not of their intimacy or smell. The smell of varnish permeates the air. The serendipity of the natural convulsions of the varnish and the facilitations of the hand of the artist, his performance, have been caught like bugs in amber in the final molecular structure of the painting. Here are pendulous, globular goops of varnish, immersive heroic tone poems that form images in the mind of the viewer. Moving close to the paintings you are surrounded by flows and eddies, the macro and the micro; details become more apparent as you study the work.

While disagreeing that these paintings are the viewers to create (the viewer as author) what I can say is that the artist offers the viewer the ability to generate their own resonances with the painting, to use the imagination of ‘equivalence’ to suggest what these paintings stand for – and also what else they stand for. States of being, of transformation, wonder and joy emerge in the playfulness of these works. Perhaps this is where the titles of the paintings come from, referencing film actors in the pop tradition, but this is the only thing that did not ring true with the work, their titles. The use of this trope seems to me a bit facile given the nature of the work.

The hot pink painting ‘Rupert Grint’ (2008/2009, above) is hotter and lighter than in the photograph above, the varnish more translucent, the effect altogether mesmeric. You are drawn into the work, the intensity of the colour, the thickness of the hanging varnish. Two cosmological galaxies (‘Timothy Oliphant’ (2008) and ‘Matthew Macfadyen’ (2008)) surround the most complex painting in the exhibition, the darkness and light that is ‘Ryan Gosling’ (2008/2009, below).


Dale Frank. 'Ryan Gosling' (2008/2009)


Dale Frank
‘Ryan Gosling’


This painting is a tour de force. With the poetic structure of an oil spill, the varnish forms intricate slick upon slick contours that are almost topographical in their mapping. The black oozes light, becomes ‘plastic’ black before your eyes, like the black of Rembrandt’s backgrounds, illusive, illuminative and hard to pin down – perpetually hanging there in two dripping rows, fixed but fluid at one and the same time (you can just see the suspensions in the photograph above).

The painting reminds me of the black paintings of Mark Rothko that he undertook for The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas (see below). As with the Rothko paintings, this painting is not just black (physically there are swirls of purple as in the Rothko paintings), not about darkness at all. What both artists do is create a contemplative, transformative space  – in Frank’s case for a world on the edge of oblivion. This is a post post-modern landscape: process and nature, performance and chance coalescing in the colour : black!

This painting is one of the most overwhelming syntheses of art and nature, of universal forces that I have seen in recent contemporary art. This exhibition is an electric pulsating universe of life, landscape and transformation. Magnificent!

M Bunyan


The Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas


The Rothko Chapel
Houston, Texas



Anna Schwartz Gallery

185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000

+61 3 9654 6131

Tuesday – Friday 12-6pm
Saturday 1-5pm


Opening 3: Review: ‘Show Court 3’ and ‘Mood Bomb’ by Louise Paramor at Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne

Opening: Thursday 5th March 2009

Exhibition dates: 5th March – 28th March 2009


Boarding a train at Flinders Street we emerge at South Yarra station to stroll down to River Street for our third opening of the night at Nellie Castan Gallery. We are greeted by the ever gracious Nellie Castan who has just returned from an overseas trip to Europe where she was soaking up the wonders of Rome amongst other places.

For the latest exhibition in the gallery Louise Paramor is presenting two bodies of work: ‘Show Court 3’ and ‘Mood Bomb’ (both 2009). Lets look at ‘Show Court 3’ first as this work has older origins.
Originally exhibited in 2006 at Nellie Castan under the title Jam Session the sculptures from this exhibition and many more beside (75 in all) were then installed in 2007 on show court 3 at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, hence the title of the installation. In the smaller gallery in 2009 we have six Lambda photographic prints that are records of this installation plus a video of the installation and de-installation of the work.


Louise Paramor. 'Show Court 3 (II)' 2009


Louise Paramor
‘Show Court 3 (II)’


Louise Paramor. 'Show Court 3 (VI)' 2009


Louise Paramor
‘Show Court 3 (VI)’


While interesting as documentary evidence of the installation these photographs are thrice removed from the actual sculptures – the sculptures themselves, the installation of the sculptures on court and then the photographs of the installation of the sculptures. The photographs lose something in this process – the presence or link back to the referentiality of the object itself. There is no tactile suggestiveness here, no fresh visual connections to be made with the materials, no human interaction. The intertextual nature of the objects, the jamming together of found pieces of bright plastic to make seductive anthropomorphic creatures that ‘play’ off of each other has been lost.


 Louise Paramor. 'Show Court 3' (detail) 2009


Louise Paramor
‘Show Court 3’ (detail)


Louise Paramor. 'Show Court 3' (detail) 2009


Louise Paramor
‘Show Court 3’ (detail)


What has been reinforced in the photographs is a phenomena that was observed in the actual installation.

“The sculptures created a jarring visual disruption when placed in a location normally associated with play and movement. The stadium seating surrounding the tennis court incited an expectation of entertainment; a number of viewers sat looking at the sculptures, as though waiting for them to spin and jump around. But mostly, the exhibition reversed the usual role of visitors to place where one sits and watches others move; here the objects on the tennis court were static and the spectators moved around.” (2007)1

In the photographs of these objects and in the installation itself what occurs is an inversion of perception, a concept noted by the urbanist Paul Virilio.2 Here the objects perceive us instead of us perceiving the object: they stare back with an oculocentric ‘suggestiveness’ which is advertising’s raison d’être (note the eye sculpture above). In particular this is what the photographs suggest – a high gloss surface, an advertising image that grabs our attention and forces us to look but is no longer a powerful image.


Louise Paramor. Opening night crowd in front of 'Sky Pilot' (left) and 'Mama' (right) 2009


Louise Paramor
Opening night crowd in front of ‘Sky Pilot’ (left) and ‘Mama’ (right)


Louise Paramor. Opening night crowd in front of 'Green Eyed Monster' (right) and 'Sky Pilot' (right) 2009


Louise Paramor
Opening night crowd in front of ‘Green Eyed Monster’ (right) and ‘Sky Pilot’ (right)


Louise Paramor. Opening night crowd in front of 'Pineapple Express' 2009


Louise Paramor
Opening night crowd in front of ‘Pineapple Express’


In the main gallery was the most interesting work of the whole night – experiments of abstraction in colour “inspired by the very substance of paint itself.” Made by pouring paint onto glass and then exhibiting the smooth reverse side, these paintings are not so much about the texture of the surface (as is Dale Frank’s work below) but a more ephemeral thing: the dreamscapes of the mind that they promote in the viewer, the imaginative connections that ask the viewer to make. Simpler and perhaps more refined than Frank’s work (because of the smooth surface, the lack of the physicality of the layering technique? because of the pooling of amoebic shapes produced, not the varnish that accumulates and recedes?) paint oozes, bleeds, swirls, drips upwards and blooms with a sensuality of intense love. They are dream states that allow the viewer to create their own narrative with the title of the works offering gentle guides along the way: ‘Girl with Flowers’, ‘Lovers’, ‘Mood Bomb’, ‘Emerald God’, ‘Mama’, and ‘Animal Dreaming’ to name just a few. To me they also had connotations of melted plastic, almost as if the sculptures of Show Court 3 had dissolved into the glassy surface of a transparent tennis court.


Louise Paramor. 'A Dog and His Master' (detail) 2009


Louise Paramor
‘A Dog and His Master’ (detail)


Louise Paramor. 'Lovers' 2009


Louise Paramor


Dale Frank. 2005


Dale Frank
‘2. One conversation gambit you hear these days: ‘Do you rotate?’ An interesting change of tack? No suck luck. ‘Do you rotate?’ simply fishes for information about the extent of your collection. Do you have enough paintings to hang a different one in your dining room every month?’


Louise Paramor. 'Mood Bomb' 2009


Louise Paramor
‘Mood Bomb’


Louise Paramor. 'Slippery Slope' (detail) 2009


Louise Paramor
‘Slippery Slope’ (detail)


Louise Paramor 'Green Eyed Monster' (detail) 2009


Louise Paramor
‘Green Eyed Monster’
(detail) 2009


These are wonderfully evocative paintings. I really enjoyed spending time with them. A visit is highly recommended.



Nellie Castan Gallery
level 1 12 river street south yarra 3161
hours 12pm – 5pm tuesday – sunday
phone +61 9804 7366


1. O’Neill, Jane. Louise Paramor: Show Court 3. Melbourne: Nellie Castan Gallery, 2009.
2. Virilio, Paul. The Vision Machine. (trans. Julie Rose). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994, pp.62-63.   

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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