Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present Heavy Painting, the third solo exhibition by Thrush Holmes with the gallery. Using diverse materials, which range from oil paint to neon to driveway sealer, to depict a variety of subject matter, Holmes brazenly undermines exclusionary high art motifs. In their place, he delivers a fresh, honest reduction of form and process that unsparingly unveils his own slapdash hand. The result is a psychedelic exhibition with a varying tempo - one that oscillates between brutish splatters of paint, poetic smears of color, and sophisticated glimmers of neon.
Throughout the show, monumental silhouettes of floral bouquets loom overhead. Painted in monochromes, these arrangements hold tension in their aesthetic contradiction to the expressive, polychromatic background. In Bam Bam Boom Boom, for example, a disciplined and delicate depiction of a black bouquet hovers over a ground-shaking abstraction of explosive vibrancy. A tenuous balance is struck - between Spartan restraint and relentless nonchalance - creating a menagerie that is both head-banging and meditative, angst-ridden and phlegmatic.
In their scale and subject matter, Legendary Hearts and Beautiful Losers bring the grand tradition of history painting out from the high-minded salon and into the gritty, howling 90's punk rock scene. In these two depictions of bands on-stage and in mid-performance, Holmes injects all the energy of crashing symbols, shredding strings, and wailing voices. Turbulent scrawls electrify the canvas. Paint drips down like blood and sweat. Viewing these works is the visual equivalent of being thrown into the mosh pit. Yet in the semi-transparent composition of the figures, there is something heartbreakingly tender - nostalgia, or perhaps a more explicit longing, for a milieu that has come and gone, one that each day moves further and further into the recesses of history.
The mood changes abruptly in Holmes' tenacious vertical screen-print adorned with neon, Shoreline. In the detached immediacy of this menacing abstraction, there's no place for wistfulness. Instead, as if stamped by a monster-truck and a slew of other industrial machinery, the work dissolves the artist's burden of representation. The composition is almost unconscious; and the effect is decidedly self-referential.
Thrush Holmes lives and works in Toronto and has been widely exhibited throughout Canada. His work can be found in permanent collections such as the Elton John Aids Foundation, Sony Dreamworks, and Defjam Records among others. Holmes has been written about in The Globe and Mail, Blouin Art + Auction, and many others.