For their inaugural solo exhibition in South Korea, Tom Holmes painted interior spaces featuring elements of baroque architecture. Though often empty and seemingly abandoned, the spaces contain the remnants of blurry objects left behind. Akin to the masterfully painted 17th-century still lifes, Tom Holmes’ works evoke slippery associations emerging from delicate burstings of light and reflections.
“Flazéda”, the exhibition title, stems from the popular US TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. It was uttered first by contender Pearl as a presumably unintentional combination of blasé, laissez-faire and la-di-da, to express a state of being laid-back. This portmanteau, similar to a pop culture equivalent of equanimity, a state of calmness and composure, points to the contemplative nature of the artist’s new body of work. The scintillating interiors not only create the illusion of physical space inside the painting but also allude to the interior consciousness drifting in moments of exploration.
As referenced by the painting of a Tibetan mask, this body of work draws inspiration from the Tibetan Book of the Dead/Bardo Thodol. Esoteric in nature, this text is traditionally intended to be recited to the dead. While not a primary Vajrayana scripture, an early English translation gained significance as a guiding text for psychedelic exploration during the 1960s. Deliberately situating the images within the Occidental realm serves as an acknowledgement of the Western mind's contemplation of existential emptiness and serves as a meditation on light as a symbolic representation of consciousness.
Despite their figurative and metaphorical elements, Tom Holmes' paintings question the historical division between representational and abstract painting, proposing that all painting is inherently abstract. By removing the spaces and decorations from the physical realm, and turning them into flat surfaces, the paintings allow for associations free from worldly distraction, an ability the raw objects do not possess without the poetic transmission through the act of painting.
Tom Holmes (b. Ozona, Texas, lives and works in Cannon County and Jackson County, TN) received a BFA from the University of Texas, Austin and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Their work has been included in exhibitions at Kunsthalle Bern, Bern; the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Georgia; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Contemporary Art Biennial, Sélestat, France; Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden and the Whitney Museum in Altria, New York. Their work is in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Stiftung Kunsthalle Bern, FRAC Bourgogne, and the Tang Museum at Skidmore College.
The artist wishes to extend a special thanks to MayHouse.