Inman Gallery is pleased to present And Jugs Paint Reuse, an exhibition of recent paintings by Dana Frankfort, opening on Saturday, June 4, with a reception from 2:00–4:00pm. The exhibition is concurrent with PrintHouston 2022 and will be on view through July 16, 2022.
Dana Frankfort’s paintings are built around fragments of language. Words graze the surface in fast direct strokes, or recede behind thin washes, or break through opaque fields. But beyond the clear structural contributions of their curves and hard edges, the words play a more ambiguous role. They’re legible but slippery. Their conventional definitions melt into pigment and surface and mark, the more pliable language of paint. Two understandings of the world, descriptive and experiential, wrestle in Frankfort’s paintings, and neither entirely gains the upper hand.
For And Jugs Paint Reuse, Frankfort has tightened her focus. She almost exclusively paints the four words of the exhibition title. The scale rarely extends beyond 24 inches on a side, and is often much smaller. The larger paintings are on burlap, which accords with a transition from gestural marks towards sedimentary accumulation, a rough facture that surrounds and engulfs the words. The texture is so pronounced in these most recent paintings that a gap opens between the paintings themselves and their images: in photographs, the words are often still very legible; in person, they almost dissolve into the churn of dense and varied paint handling. Subject to an open-ended working process – a single painting might be ‘finished’ several times over – the words take on some of the transience of spoken language, rather than writing. They might sink back into oblivion in the next moment. Shift your focus, and sometimes they do.
The repetition of a few blunt words accelerates the slide from concrete, intelligible meaning into a more disorienting flux. On one canvas, the word ‘paint,’ a feverish red-orange, sprouts from a pool of violet. On another, the same word is muted blue and orange, pushing through a dark grey crust. ‘And’ recurs as a bulbous zigzag with a dark halo, a tangle of spindly limbs, a black spray in a white fog. Repetition and variation have the incantatory double effect of simultaneously bleaching and reinforcing the significance of these words: they recall the childhood game of saying a word until it starts to sound funny, and at the same time reassert themselves like an omen or a hunch.
And’ is the most common word in this exhibition, in the sense that it’s on almost half the canvases, but also in the sense that it’s just a practical, workaday word. It refers to nothing beyond its function; without other language to connect, it dwindles to insignificance. But ‘and’ is also a persevering, inclusive word: a word that, while making no great claims for itself, opens a passage. It builds on a past and anticipates a future. As potential, as continuity, it stands at the center of this body of work. Small, thematically consistent, and forgoing grand gestures, these paintings are nevertheless extravagant. Their densely layered, shifting surfaces and flashes of exuberant color are the grace notes of an additive, unstinting, ever-evolving process. They’re the humble abundance that constitutes the everyday practice of painting.
Dana Frankfort received a BA from Brandeis University in 1995 and an MFA from Yale University in 1997. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, also in 1997. From 1999-2000 Frankfort was an MFAH Core Studio Art Resident. One-person exhibitions include: Southwest School of Art, San Antonio (2018); James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA (2011); Inman Gallery (2012, 2010, 2007); Sorry We're Closed, Brussels (2008); Bellwether Gallery, New York, NY (2007); and Kantor/Feuer Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2006). Her paintings have been included in the group exhibition Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art (San Antonia Museum of Art 2020, Art Museum of South Texas, 2022), Abstract America: New Painting from the U.S., Saatchi Gallery, London (2009-10); and locally in Learning by Doing: 25 Years of the Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (2008-09). Frankfort was an Artadia recipient in 2018 and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2006. Her paintings are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, Rice University, Houston, TX, St. Edward's University, Austin and The Jewish Museum, New York, NY. Frankfort lives and works in Houston, TX.