Q&A with Dale Frank - Art Collector

Installation view. Photograph by Jessica Maurer. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney.

Dale Frank speaks to Art Collector, off the back of his recent solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

You refer to your works in your most recent solo show at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery as “paintings”, yet the works interact with the space almost like an installation would. How important is medium in your practice?

Any consideration of painting in isolation tends to be reactionary. Today every medium represents only one possibility among many. The only thing that counts is the artist's conceptual project. The choice of a particular medium only has meaning inasmuch as it relates to a strategic gain within the overall project.

If a conceptual statement can be adequately formulated in terms of painting, then artists paint, but if a different medium proves to be more useful, they turn to that. In this context anybody who looks at the medium alone is missing the most important thing. Bold demands for an examination of the general conditions of art successfully abolished the dogma of the primacy of the medium in 20th century painting.

Do you then see painting as a historical medium?

Painting as practice can take strength precisely from the fact that through an immanent dialogue with its own history and conditions as a medium, it arrives at a (strategic) self-justification within a more widely-spread conceptual world.

Any crisis in painting should be understood as a positive opportunity and the loss of its self-evident justification as a productive possibility that could provide painting with a conceptual basis again; forcing painting potentially into a more enthralling, adventurous and critically engaging approach than any other medium.

Installation view. Photograph by Jessica Maurer. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney.

There is a sense of mutability highlighted by the warped reflections and shifting light created by your works. What does this say about the interaction between an artwork and the world outside?

Contemporary painting produces reflective situations that show art in a light that is constantly new and changing. Nothing stays the same for long anymore. Almost everything is almost continually influenced by almost everything else.

The meaning of the painting is therefore not transparent but latent. Painting is realised today within the world of multiple artistic practices, it is grounded in a context that is no longer its own.

The works surround viewers in the exhibition space like mirrors. How does the gaze and ego relate to your practice?

On one hand, my work likes to observe the society we live in, where everything is individualistic, we are trapped in ourselves. As soon as you enter, you are trapped in mirrors, trapped in the paintings, with yourself reflected.

On the other hand, the painting actually only exists when you are NOT looking at it. The mirror in my work is like escapism, it shows the image of something that happens somewhere else. In that way you never actually know what the work is, conceptually speaking. The real paintings live life outside the gaze of the viewer and the artist.

Installation view. Photograph by Jessica Maurer. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney.

Non-representational art can often consumed by the pursuit of immateriality. Do you want your art to be beautiful?

Painting can be described not only in terms of the logic, or strategy, but also in terms of an aesthetic of its own. If a painting teaches, it is by irony, by cunning and shock. A painting wises you up. Irony is another way to raise questions. These elements are always present in my work. And then on the other side there is the image and the seduction of communication expressed through forms and pictures.

I like art that seduces, that the content is provocative and aggressive at the same time. I like contradiction. You never know what you are looking at.

But finally and firstly for the viewer, like all art these paintings exist through the complete sensuous seduction of their eyes. You have to look at it.

Marcus James

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