Equal parts fashion show and art-history lesson, Andrew Holmquist’s “Alter Ego” dazzles the viewer with a diverse assortment of Technicolor “looks” in the guise of eighteen blisteringly frenetic works on paper. In his fourth solo show with Carrie Secrist, the now-Berlin-based painter continues his longstanding flirtation with the porous boundaries between figuration and abstraction while affirming that identity is little more than a costume.
The six large-scale pieces that anchor the show have a corporeal presence. Clocking in at nearly seven-feet tall, these multivalent “Strong LQQs” are bossy and structurally reminiscent of de Kooning’s infamous “Women” of the early 1950s. Composed with an alluring combination of colored pencil, pastel, gouache and spray paint, the lemon-yellow figure in “(Jubilee)” holds the space centrally and is as much an excuse to paint, draw and luxuriate in pure color as it is a conveyor of meaning.
Holmquist’s work has always slid effortlessly along the buffet line of modernist painting. But whether inflected with hints of cubism, futurism or expressionism, style-checking his works’ formal antecedents never gets in the way of what the artist is saying. “Alter Ego” is suffused with subtle and wry critique; of the fickle, fashion-show-like nature of the contemporary art industry and our collective obsession with identity.
These luminous and playful images recognize that our sense of self is a mutable theater and that to pin ourselves down as one thing or another is basically pointless. Like the androgynous mannequins that Holmquist hangs his painted attire upon, we are changing all the time. The alter ego and the doppelgänger are one and the same. In an age of selfies, self-assertions and selfishness, Holmquist’s show reminds us that we needn’t over-aggrandize the one thing that doesn’t really exist. (Alan Pocaro)
Andrew Holmquist’s “Alter Ego” is on view through March 10 at Carrie Secrist Gallery, 835 West Washington.