In his new show at Bureau’s new address at 178 Norfolk Street, Holmes presents new large-scale painting and sculpture that feature ‘exuberant pop references mixed with painterly abstraction and stoic minimalism, unified by the over-arching motif of funerary form’.

Bureau’s press release functions as a instructions manual for a rather cryptic concoction of objects and paintings. It says: ‘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’.


This is rather confusing when seeing the actual visual objects because there is nothing that goes too far from what Michael Fried called objecthood. Having said that, one is expected to believe that this are morbid objects while at the same time ‘they are not so much about morbidity’. Confusing!

Well, let me explain. The funerary motive is a way found by the artist to categorize his eclectic work. That is why the press release states that: ‘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’.  In other words, the show is composed by ready made objects which are metaphorically characterised by the artist as funerary without particular reason but only ‘to transcend his content to further questions of abstraction and form while also proposing a renovated perspective on death and mourning’. Are these people for real or plain stupid? Laziness and bullocks marketed as morbidity? Boring to death! Not pun intended!

Tom Holmes at Bureau Inc. NYC
Piss Yellow / Bars and Stars
October 6 – November 10 2013