Los Angeles

Tom Holland

David Stuart Gallery

Tom Holland’s eight new paintings (plus one in the office) called the “Malibu Series” are made from sheets of translucent plastic, liberally and loosely painted with predominantly white, black, or an overall mix like a chalky rainbow. The sizes float in the seven-foot-square neighborhood. The pictures present themselves as extended paintings, a two-dimensional, rectangle-based art (Holland is a painter) rather than a flattened, polychromatic sculpture. The complexity of surface is usually two or three units (units = a felt plane, not each separate physical piece), though the basket-weave paintings seem, on the whole, simpler (one surface) and the moebius-band-addition pictures start jumping off the wall. These paintings are better than Holland’s earlier work but, if there is an intended connection in “funk” between the airplanes and telescopes and waterfalls of yesterday, and the loosely carpentered, riveted, bolted and punctured sheets of plastic, it fails—all to the better. The incantations of Cubist formalism are too strong, the drip is too elegant, and the color compromise too knowledgeable (too little chroma and we’d have patinated sculpture, too much and it would destroy the multi-surface readings) for Holland to pretend to any kind of primitivism. He’s best in the basket-weave pictures when he stays closest to painting, and forces the reading on those terms, although the moebius-band pictures do usefully contain an old-fashioned figure-ground ambiguity. Perhaps one last thing ought to be noted: there is a slight feeling of stylish eclecticism, i.e. a programmed emulsion of the “right” non-art materials and a timely revival of Abstract Expressionism. There are vague reports aplenty in Los Angeles of other name artists “using” Abstract Expressionism in new work in progress, similar to Lichtenstein’s faux naïf employment of Thirties Moderne.

Peter Plagens