Bureau is thrilled to announce the inaugural exhibition at its new home at 178 Norfolk Street: Tom Holmes’s Piss Yellow / Bars and Stars. This exhibition is the second solo by the artist at Bureau, following his debut Silly Rabbit: a gravestone and an urn at DISPATCH in 2010. Presenting new large-scale painting and sculpture the show will feature exuberant pop references mixed with painterly abstraction and stoic minimalism, unified by the over-arching motif of funerary form.
Holmes has been working for several years fluidly across mediums to create minimalist- inspired and pop-culture-infused funerary pieces. Working within a long art historical and anthropological tradition of funerary and memorial work, Holmes has been inspired by a wide range of burial practices. From lavish cemeteries in capitol cities to ephemeral tributes found in rural burial grounds, Holmes has built a language of references based on the varied displays of reverence and memorial. His obsession, however, is not so much with morbidity – though it surely does not shy away from dealing with the inevitable – but with finding his own truly American language of abstraction. The simplicity of a stone placed on a grave marker, the weathered grid of a concrete mausoleum, or a gaudily ornamented floral wreath serve as entry points to the formal elements in Holmes’s work.
Holmes’s practice operates within a framework of funerary motif and is subdivided into categories. Gravestones, shrouds, arrangements and plots in many cases are analogues for standing sculpture, textile work, panel painting and floor sculpture. On the surface, the theme functions as a heavy reminder of our mortality, but by relentlessly employing funerary categories for such a large body of work, the subject matter becomes a given for Holmes: a readymade. The artist endeavors to transcend his content to further questions of abstraction and form while also proposing a renovated perspective on death and mourning.
Painted arrangements bounce across the walls as arching chip-bag logos-cum-wreaths, anchored by rectilinear cinder block plots lining the floor. The bars and stars of the confederate flag are dressed up as silky, dyed shrouds. Rich, gestural abstraction is adorned with crushed soda cans. Holmes’s work not only elevates mass-marketed products and common symbols of American identity, but relates these objects with the received history of modern art. These pieces stand as proposals for contemporary funeral art, where an affinity between popular culture and the legacy of minimalism are equally relevant. Originating in America’s ubiquitous and disposable big-box culture Holmes’s practice reckons with a cluttered visual landscape by synthesizing these diverse cues with sensitivity and wit.
Tom Holmes was born in Ozona, Texas, and lives and works in Cannon County Tennessee. Selected solo exhibitions include ‘Temporary Monument’, Kunsthalle Bern; ‘Part of This Complete Breakfast: objects for a wake’, Galérie Catherine Bastide, Brussels; ‘Painted Bones - some reliquaries’, Bureau New York; ‘El Camino Real’, Au 8 Rue St Bon, Paris; ‘Silly Rabbit: a gravestone and an urn’, Dispatch, New York; ‘Noisy Bottom’, Exile, Berlin. His work has been included in group exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Contemporary Art Biennial, Sélestat, France; ‘More Young Americans’, Paris; Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden and Whitney Museum at Altria, New York.