Art Review:
Dennis Hollingsworth

Nestor of Pylos, 2001, oil on linen on wood panel, 183 x 244cm.

"I love paint," says Dennis Hollingsworth when asked to explain his work. That's obvious.

His abstract paintings can be exuberant and fun—spiky white lumps and yellow donuts jostle on pastel fields, goopy loops revolve around smears. But Hollingsworth's designs can also contain the more serious complexity of partially excavated archeological sites or fresh crime scenes with paint that is hidden, exposed and overlapping.

Pete Sakes, 2001, oil on linen on wood panel, 162 x 188cm

Now firmly planted in the Los Angeles art scene, Hollingsworth moved frequently in his early years. He was born in Spain in 1956 to a US Air Force father and Filipina mother, spent time in the US Navy, and studied architecture in California. But what he really wanted to be was an artist.
Hollingsworth cites two moments that clarified his future career path. The first occurred when he returned to Madrid at the age of 13. "It was like a homecoming," he says, recalling the week he spent touring the Prado Museum, where the carnal properties of paint in the work of Goya and Velasquez fascinated him. The artist's other "generative moment," he says, was the Francis Bacon show held in Los Angeles in 1990. "You could count the actions in the paintings ... There were lines that delineated space, mists of paint, and rub-outs."

Hollingsworth also builds his oil paintings in layers and prescribed gestures, using about 10 or so strokes he has standardized—what he calls keys on a keyboard. Working alla prima (wet on wet), Hollingsworth first lays down a background with rubber squeegees, making a smooth surface streaked with color. But this surface won't stay uniform for long. Hollingsworth next uses drywall tools, customized paint brushes with hairs removed, palette knives and other objects to choreograph his erratic loops, violent excisions, fingernail scrapes, and trademark spiky sea urchins.

Some of the motifs might strike a cake decorator with envy or fear, but this isn't abstraction-lite. Hollingsworth is one of the inheritors of the gestural abstraction tradition (think Jackson Pollock) that has passed in and out of favor since the '50s. For his generation, this is somewhat unusual. The artist says that when he finished graduate school (Claremont) in 1991, he felt stifled by the prevailing conceptualist doctrines that favored the idea at the expense of the art object. Proclamations of the death of painting echoed all around him, but Hollingsworth followed his own—"I celebrate the embodiment of materiality," he says—and plunged into the sensuality of his medium that he had first seen in Goya.

Hollingsworth describes his sketches in the Tomio Koyama Gallery office as thoughts on paper. He says that he produces three or four paintings in the same "language" before moving on to something different, and that these are a way of exploring different combinations of colors and other elements.

But Hollingsworth won't divulge all the secrets of his paintings. In another statement that could come across as ironic if he weren't so earnest and straightforward, the artist concludes, "Beguilement is necessary."

Tomio Koyama Gallery
Until Apr 6. Monzen-Nakacho stn (Tozai, Oedo lines), exit 3. Or Suitengumae stn (Hanzomon line), exit 2. Shokuryo Bldg 2F, Saga 1-8-13. Tue-Sat 11am-7pm. Tel: 03-3630-2205.

Photo credit: courtesy Tomio Koyama Gallery

B u y  i t  o n l i n e !
The Prado Paintings

449: Between Reality and Dreams: 19th Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum
448: Quobo: Art in Berlin 1989-99
447: Scandinavian Landscape Painting in the 19th Century
446: Peter Bellars: Par for the Course
445: Doug Aitken: New Ocean
444: Andrea Zittel: A-Z Garments Series
443: Sebastiao Salgado: Exodus
442: Dumb Type: Voyages
441: Tadanori Yokoo: All Things in the Universe
440: Jean-Marc Bustamante: Private Crossing
439: Joan Miro : 1918-1945
438: Modern Paintings of Mongolia
437: Manit Sriwanichpoom: Bangkok in Pink
436: French Drawings from the British Museum: From Fontainebleau to Versailles
435: Muneteru Ujino: Japan Series
434: Photography Today 2: Site/Sight
433: Rirkrit Tiravanija and Raymond Pettibon
432: Three Young Artists from Korea
431: Dynastic Heritage of Korea
430: Seoul Pop
429: Dreams & Goals
428: Since Godzilla
427: Yoshihiro Suda + Tetsuya Nakamura: Un Monde Revé de la Main
426: GA Houses Project 2002
425: Sesshu: 500th Anniversary
424: Luis Barragan: The Quiet Revolution
423: The Mori Arts Center/Young Video Artists Initiative
422: The Adventures of Tintin
421: Session - Super Eccentric of Japan's Warring States Period
420: Jorge Pardo
419: Artists Without Borders
418: Dennis Hollingsworth
417: Masterworks from the Prado Museum
416: JAM: Tokyo-London
415: Digital Beauties
414: Arika Someya
413: MOMAT
412: NW House
411: Mariko Mori
410: Sonia Delaunay
409: Buckminster Fuller
408: Wusheng Wang
407: Tokyo Architecture #2
406: Tokyo Architecture #1
405: The Art Ahead
404: Table Manners
403: Tom Sanford at Tomoya Saito Gallery
402: Nambanga: An Anthology of World Manga
401: Masterworks from MoMA
400: Spencer Tunick: Nude Adrift

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