Dale Frank

Eddie T Chest the Man with a Cricket Bat Shaped Penis Helping Men Manage Their Responsibilities (The Gulf), 1997/2000
acrylic and varnish on canvas
260 x 200 cm
signed and dated ‘DF 2000’ (lower right); signed, inscribed and dated ‘DALE FRANK/OXLEY GALLERY/2000’ and with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery label (on the reverse)

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Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Performance and spectacle are at the core of Dale Frank’s body of work. From his first performance piece in 1978, Frank has always been interested in the relationship between body and mind and how perception distorts and contradicts reality. Translated into his paintings, Frank develops the tradition of gestural abstraction of Jackson Pollock, Yves Klein and Morris Louis to create carnal images of intense colour. 

Frank began using varnishes, chemicals and poisons on his paintings from 1986. The varnish works are a blend of chaos and design. With its long drying times, Frank would leave the varnished canvases exposed to collect dust and stick to mosquitoes and flies (not seen in this painting). On the other hand, the works are highly choreographed, with the viscosity of the liquid meticulously and scientifically planned along with the angles and timing of the artist tilting the canvas or applying the next layer. The glossy finish of the works carries forward the idea of performance, both in the gestures of the artist permanently encased in varnish, and in the movements of the viewer that can be seen reflected back. 

In 2000, Frank made a series of monochromatic varnish paintings that Frank has said were named after “actors who achieved a coolness or sexual allure,” like Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Hartnett “or young actors who achieved star status in a brief period then ‘disappeared’ e.g. Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy”. (Dale Frank in So Far: The Art of Dale Frank, 2005-1980.) Other works had titles that were web addresses where real or fake naked photographs of celebrities could be found, and others still – like this painting – had absurd titles that nonetheless share a theme of male sexual allure. The liquid quality of the varnish paintings, and Frank’s tendency to use red and pink, are part of their bodily and overtly sexual nature.

  • Eddie T Chest the Man with a Cricket Bat Shaped Penis Helping Men Manage Their Responsibilities (The Gulf)

Image courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

View artist profile

With a career as both a performance artist and an abstract painter, Dale Frank’s ability to cross media and experiment with form and different methods of artistic experience has made his work deeply engaging with audiences around the world. Born in Singleton, New South Wales, in 1959, Frank lives and works in the Hunter Valley.

Frank began exhibiting in Australia in the mid-1970s, with periods spent working across Europe and the United States. With over four decades of practice, Frank has had a vastly experimental relationship with conceptual installation and a range of materials. In recent years, varnish and enamel have been mainstays, which he has skilfully manipulated to nebulous forms and surfaces in the colourful, poured paintings for which he has become well known. The final surfaces are sleek and polished, giving a liquid quality to the abstract, brightly coloured forms that lie beneath. Just like his performance art, which often aimed to engage the sense of touch or sound as well as sight, his paintings are visceral and tactile, with great attention paid to form and surface.

Frank’s international exhibiting career began at P.S.1, New York, (now MOMA PS1) in 1981. In 1983 Frank was included in the exhibition Panorama della post - critica: critica ed arte at the Museo Palazzo Lanfranchi in Pisa alongside Thomas Lawson and Anselm Kiefer, curated by Helena Kontova. The following year he was shown in the Aperto section of the 1984 Venice Biennale. In 2000 a twenty-year survey of Frank’s work, Ecstasy – 20 Years of Painting, was mounted at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. 

In 2007 a monograph on Dale Frank was published by Black Inc Books, So Far: the Art of Dale Frank 2005-1980. Frank’s work is held in all major Australian national and state galleries, as well as in the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, New Zealand, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Zurich Kunsthaus.