Important Fine Art + Indigenous Art
18 April 2018


born 1959

varnish on synthetic polymer paint on canvas

200.0 x 200.0 cm

signed and dated twice verso: Dale Frank / 2000/2005

$25,000 – 35,000
Sold for $54,900 (inc. BP) in Auction 53 - 18 April 2018, Sydney

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (label attached verso, as ‘Jonathan Schaech, 2000’)
Art Galleries Schubert, Queensland (label attached verso)
Private collection, Queensland, acquired from the above in 2005

Catalogue text

Dale Frank’s ultra-reflective and stunningly evocative chromatic canvases challenge our expectations of what painting is, or should be. Unperturbed by recent theory or passing fashion, Frank’s brilliance lies in his ability to create a contemplative and transformative space.

In the mid-90s, Frank began utilising vitreous paints and varnishes, experimenting with the myriad physical possibilities that the medium unlocked. The performative nature of the materials, undoubtedly appealing to the artist’s origins as a performance artist in the 1970s, enabled Frank to engage with the viewer on a purely visceral level. In the tradition of Rothko, Frank demands full participation of the viewer, abandoning the customary role of artist as creator and audience as passive observer. The vast reflective canvas, adorned with explosive colour and lustrous varnish imposes itself on the spectator, who is actively enticed into its pictorial space. The gaze is reversed, as the glossy surface adopts the viewer as its own subject, embodying the artist’s notion of the painting as a dynamic living entity.

Despite appearances, the organic and marbled rivulets of colour are far from accidental. Frank's magnificently loose applications of colour are in fact a careful orchestration of paint poured onto the canvas. Glistening streams of pigmented varnish are poured onto the horizontal painting, coalescing and solidifying, as the artist manipulates the bleeds of paint by means of wooden blocks and wedges placed underneath the canvas. Possessing a studied understanding of his materials, Frank reveals, ’It is a totally hands on and cerebral way of painting. The process can take up to twenty-four hours where I have to be permanently standing over the painting, constantly considering every minute aspect.’1

Frank’s painting titles, an apt insight into his acerbic and iconoclastic worldview, are employed for poetic affect. While they bear no tangible connection to the works themselves, they feed into the lyricism of his visual language. These outrageously specific titles, such as Sulphur Creek Penguin, 2000 – 05 allude to neither a real nor imagined subject, yet they act as psychological triggers, encouraging the viewer to reject the search for allegory, and instead to merely delight in the pleasure and power of looking.

1. The artist cited in Crawford, A., 'Dale Frank', Art & Australia, vol. 42, no. 2, Sydney, 2004, p. 214