Andrew Holmquist delivers a cohesive and fluid exhibition in his current show, STAGE LEFT. By encompassing the theatrical role of the dramaturgy, the artist creates a visual delight. This new body of work consists of paintings, sculpture, video, costume, and an installation element. Holmquist has migrated from his typical “improvisational and abstract” style into presenting clear figures and deliberate marks that flow in tandem with those expressionistic and spontaneous brush strokes likened from previous work. He then connects each element together, using a common thread between each medium.
The video element, shot on 16mm-color film, is a collaboration with filmmaker Alexander Stewart. It is this distinct component that holds the key in the fluidity of the exhibition. The hands depicted in the looped video travel into the paintings where they can be seen somewhat independently in works such as Hidden Forest and Suit of Armor, which each feature a subtle industrial aesthetic. The hands are then passed along to other paintings where they can be linked to the static figures within Holmquist’s selected scenes, like The Locker Room or Swim Meet.
According to the artist, “the ceramic sculptures take individual characters from painted worlds and present them on a physical stage in the gallery.” They do indeed translate into still life forms reminiscent of figures and objects hanging on the walls. In the vivid yellow glazed piece Noodles, the viewer can trace noodle-like shapes back to the piece, Hidden Fortress and the surreal pink sculpture Legs can find similarities in Hips. These ceramic pieces, which were a collaborative effort with Holmquist’s own parents, who are potters, presents an alternative and unique vantage point to the 2D depictions of the artist’s works. The costume component, a collaboration with fashion designer Jasper Drummond, in the artist’s own words is a, “life-size embodiment of [an] abstracted figuration who is cast as the queer superhero protagonist of the entire show.” This also, in turn, reflects the upcoming publication that will take each element and reflect on them, resulting in a cohesive comic-book style narrative.
A striking touch to the exhibition are the floor to ceiling rubber like flaps that hang in two definitive locations in the gallery. These transparent curtain obstructions culminate the exhibition by providing a theatrical atmosphere that is intended by the theme. When the viewer looks through these flaps, STAGE LEFT is presented in a transparent red hue, transforming the space into a new and pure experience.
Andrew Holmquist manages to use several forms of representational—and non-representational–methods to meld his ideas into an elegant display of intention. The appreciation for detail and a desire to reach unity leaves the viewer with a full and satisfied experience. The deliberate integration of media and the many layers that it produces are truly inspiring.
STAGE LEFT runs through March 12 at Carrie Secrist Gallery. An essay by art historian David Getsy will accompany the narrative publication, which will be released on March 10. Coinciding with the publication release is a discussion with Andrew Holmquist and David Getsy that will also take place on March 10 from 6 to 7:30pm at Soho House Chicago, 113 N. Green St.