New York

Tom Holland

Elkon Gallery

Tom Holland opts for a no sweat modernity which appears to point out acute issues while it really deflates them to the rank of décor. Holland’s work interweaves and joins fiberglass sherds and lengths, speaking for a fascination with elemental problems of joining and construction. While, in Holland’s elaboration, however, the casual trimming, the snipping of the format, the folds and basket weaves, the redoublings back upon the path, the eccentric lengths and figures and the unanticipated relief may appear to speak of a hard Constructivist sensibility, I can only view this as an adjacency of semi-automatic handiwork, therapeutic lanyard braiding or heavy origami. In short, instead of knotty Constructivism, we have the talented art student who did gorgeously well in 3D design and who, in cramming for the course, has studied Matisse’s cutouts hard, particularly those works for Jazz.

All of this quite interesting effect is besogged under a shower of epoxy and metallic drip. These delicate shimmerings, and the brown, dumpy colors which I liked more, inform us of the artist’s acquaintance with the work of Jackson Pollock of circa 1950–54, not to speak of Olitski. Like many other young artists looking back to Abstract Expressionism as a means of dealing with the issues surrounding pictorialized sculpture today, Holland mistakes the surface effect for the problem itself, prettifying and debasing a tradition which he may, in his view of things, be bringing up to date. There is an arresting aspect to Holland’s work in which the artist seems not the least interested—namely the plastic skin-like character of the epoxy paint as it rubberishly clings and adheres to the fiberglass surface. Something about the thickened plop of that plastic on plastic strikes me as quite fascinating.

Robert Pincus-Witten