Recently decamped from Berlin to Los Angeles, Holmquist’s newest body of work straddles painting and sculpture, where bodies and brushstrokes become intermingled and interchangeable, and the figure flirts with the viewer as they follow its slippage into abstraction. Suggesting events frozen in time or figures halted in the process of transformation, this work presents a welcome suspension from the expected boundaries of the body in space, offering new possibilities for both. At Johannes Vogt Gallery, the artist’s medium to large-scale paintings surround a single, monumental ceramic sculpture that draws the three-dimensional characteristics of the paintings into our physical realm. Taken in concert, Above Ground Pool swirls together bodies, brushstrokes, and fractured spaces, leaving the viewer with no option other than slipping or diving into its inviting waters.
Holmquist’s paintings evoke but do not fully image the figure. Instead bodies are fragmented and incorporated into the happy melee of action/eros that are the hallmarks of his dynamically composite world. Art historian David Getsy described Holmquist’s work as “promiscuous,” a teasing place wherein “...brushstrokes, wide and thick, fold over on themselves,” and
“The pictorial spaces of his paintings are equally open for play, with their back-and-forth flirtation with both flatness and axonometric projection. Arms and legs poke out from under planes, teasing us with a hand sign or a glimpse of tube sock. Gesture in these paintings is suggestive in two ways. Not only are the represented gestures solicitations, but also the painterly gesture — the handling of the medium — hints at bodies and parts that interlock and explore each other. In this, Holmquist has made those longstanding rivals — figuration and abstraction — bedfellows.”*
Holmquist explores painting’s ability to render desire, flirting with the viewer’s perceptions, and asking them, sometimes cheekily, to imagine his figures’ implied backsides coyly hidden from view. Similarly, his evident, broad brushstrokes are substitutes for the desirous touch, interpenetrating and caressing each other and the bodies depicted (or reconstituted) in the composition.
Holmquist’s ceramic sculptures extend from the paintings and confront the physical rather than imaginary realm. The question of the unseen backside still moves the viewer, who now must move through actual space in order to piece together what they see in front of them while holding in their memory details now hidden from view. Coated in a monochrome glaze, the sculpture exhibited in ABOVE GROUND POOL casts its silhouette against the walls and paintings that surround it, creating yet another layer of tension between their forms.
Andrew Holmquist (b. 1985, Minnesota, lives in Los Angeles) received his BFA (2008) and his MFA (2014) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has had four solo exhibitions at Carrie Secrist Gallery, including Alter Ego in January of 2018, and numerous other solo and group exhibitions at commercial and public spaces in Chicago, New York, Miami and Nashville. His recent activities include participating in exhibitions at PS120 in Berlin (2018), Eternal Youth at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (March 2017) and the Queer Arts Festival in Toronto (Summer 2016). His work is in the collections of JP Morgan Chase, Howard Rachofsky, the University of Illinois, Chicago, The Progressive Art Collection, and the BMO Harris Art Collection. His next solo exhibition at Carrie Secrist Gallery will take place in March 2019.
*Getsy, David, Behind and Through: Promiscuous Abstractions in Andrew Holmquist’s Recent Figurative Paintings, Stage Left. Carrie Secrist Gallery, 2016. Exhibition Catalogue.