The Hole is pleased to announce the first New York solo exhibition of pour paintings by Holton Rower (April 28 – May 26th, 2012). Filling all galleries at the Hole with nineteen enormous pours, Rower will present the variations in technique that produce wildly different effects. From the entrance to the gallery featuring small pours with “hats”, as the artist calls them (wood protrusions on which the paint is poured and flows down); to the medium-sized works with hats, some of which flow onto the floor; to the rear gallery where large works both with and without hats feature “exclusions” (where the artist placed obstacles that the paint was forced to flow around then removed); to Gallery Three where he shows five tectonic pours: the variety and intensity of the exhibition is assured.
Rower makes these paintings by pouring fantastic quantities of doctored paint onto plywood: however, the simplicity of this description belies the shocking and unexpected results. The paint flows slowly and determinedly over the surfaces he creates, timed to dry and spread at just the right rate, in color combinations both highly premeditated and fancifully spontaneous. The sloes of paint often fracture, vacillate, clump up, and extrude. Fissures and zigzags abound, as do waterfalls, U-turns, and smears, but always the flow triumphs.
The textures of paint, mixed on occasion with reflective elements, opalescent admixtures, and spicy sparkling polishes, vary widely and behave differently. Paint here is truly on parade.
The works have a relationship to color field painting and other formal explorations of abstract and minimal legacies—the most superficial relationship perhaps to Morris Louis’ “Pour Paintings”—but instead of seeking the autonomy of color, these works are physical, aggressive, literal and muscular. They, of course, are process-driven as the paint is given free reign to be itself, and like the heroic works of the last century do pursue the sublime; but there is nonetheless something else happening here. Rower deals not just with gravity but gravitas.
Rower’s pours come closer to the abstracting nature photos of Edward Weston than to the works of Pollock or de Kooning, painters who, even when most abstract, always left behind traces of the actions of their hands. Meanwhile, the breadth of suggestibility Rower’s pieces spans such a huge range: from the geode-type pieces to the brain scannish works, from spaceships to vertebrae to Northern Lights, lace antimacassars, ghoulish masks, surfaces of distant planets, adipose tissue, underwater mollusks, dendrites, coral, sexual bodies, Christian relics, mitochondria and Golgi complexes: it’s hard for the poetic mind not to run amok.
Rower was born in the psychedelic 60s and grew up working in his father’s construction business, where he learned about heft and weight and managing teams of people to do massive undertakings. The grandson of Alexander Calder, Rower was surrounded by a culture of art making and the influence of amazing cultural figures. He has been developing and perfecting these pours in seclusion over the past five years. Recent shows at Pace last summer, John McWhinnie in New York and forthcoming projects at Shirazu in London are just the beginning of sharing these important works with a broader audience. A catalogue will accompany this exhibition.