San Francisco

Tom Holland

Lanyon Gallery

When the importance of symbols first opened the arts to a new kind of consciousness, a symbol was believed to have an immediate correspondence to a physical entity. Klee first, then Gorky, Johns, Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, David Smith and many of the pop artists have shown that the information a symbol releases depends heavily upon the way the work of art is organized and that symbols are not universals. Information as organization is fast becoming the most important visual idea in this country.

Holland re-shapes perceptual habits with a vengeance. He exposes the idea of landscape as a cliche by means of peepholes in a black canvas. Gears, arrows, crosses, diamonds, circles and coils are stockpiled to form design units in monochrome paintings. These are played off against a violent technique which consists of semi-circular grooves cut into thick paint with his fingers. Any prior meaning these symbols may have possessed is discarded as they become part of a balance of tension. In his latest canvases Holland introduces vivid color and correspondingly reduces the quantity of signs. Balance is evidently essential to his statement: Either symbols oppose the swirling technique on a neutral field or technique opposes color and the simple sign (e.g., a diamond) is used as a battleground. His gouaches, denied tactile effects because of the medium, are very colorful and show clearly that he is master of the tensions he is able to invoke.

Holland is an artist with a flair for the monstrous, but with an ability to control it that is startling, since he is only twenty-six. Yet every canvas remains exciting (and every one in this show is good). Hopefully, this talent will soon cease to be merely a local item.

Joanna C. Magloff