"I love paint," says Dennis Hollingsworth when asked to explain his work. That's obvious.
His abstract paintings can be exuberant and funspiky 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.
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 also builds his oil paintings in layers and prescribed
gestures, using about 10 or so strokes he has standardizedwhat 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 saysand
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
Photo credit: courtesy Tomio Koyama Gallery
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