That Art Gallery launches its brand new location in Bristol with an exhibition by up and coming artist Dan Hollings.
Established in 2017 in Bristol’s Christmas Steps Art Quarter, contemporary art gallery That Art Gallery is relocating around the corner and up the hill to 2 Upper Maudlin Street.
The first exhibition in That Art Gallery’s new space, ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’, showcases works by emerging artist Dan Hollings, chosen by Saatchi Art as one of 34 artists from Europe and America to invest in - less than a month after graduating from Falmouth University. Hollings was also shortlisted for the 2018 MIDAS award, and has since exhibited at Newlyn Gallery in 2019 as part of Transition.
‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ reflects on matters of identity and childhood, revealing a vulnerable, honest and intimate side of masculinity. A colourful contemplation on the past and the ways in which we relate to it, the works explore the poetics of loss and belonging.
Hollings’ paintings are bold and bright, in colour and in style. Using thick coats of oil paint, he creates richly textured and dynamic canvases made up by many layers, patterns and colours. The scenes are abstract, inhabited by curious figures and animals that convey a playful sense of youthfulness. At the same time, the images do not shy away from emotion and sadness, saturated by a powerful intensity – from the heavy brushstrokes through to the facial expressions of the figures themselves, whose furrowed brows and conflicted expressions reveal a clear interior struggle.
Images, symbols and words are all combined to give life to spaces that are once external and internal. Where the use of deep blues and greens in particular evokes a sense of the natural world, scattered words and phrases reveal a more introspective and literal approach towards self-expression. Forms of personal dialect and snippets of overheard conversations, phrases such as “love me tomorrow” and “the sky opens its mouth and spits on the floor” are woven along with the images into a kind of patchwork that is at once painting and poetry.
“Poetry is the stitching in the patchwork between still life and self-portraits, a way of taking the world, thoughts and experiences in and spitting them back out. It’s rough and grisly, but I hope there’s some honesty in that.”
Hollings says that his work is heavily formed around the coming together of interior and exterior issues, the inquisition to understand situations and the past in correlation to the present sense of self. He describes the process as a grown-up angry child yearning to belong.
“‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ derives from a finding of self-love, fitting in today’s world and it being okay to not be okay at times. Big boys do cry. Still life studies are a tackle on the solitude of the daily. Days not feeling like getting out of bed to go to work, not wanting to chat to people, the down points not shown through social media and the mundane 9-5 jobs slaving away for no benefit. The blooming flowers, the decay, the bloom, the good days, the bad days, the really bad days cycle like that to shrubbery.”
Continually evolving, That Art Gallery is curated by Andy Phipps, exhibiting a selection of emerging and well-established artists. These include: Beau Stanton, Nettle Grellier, Pure Evil, Corinna Spencer, Stewart Geddes, Nettle Grellier, James Reka, Martin Cross, Lily Mixe, Joe Warrior-Walker, Angela Lizon, Simon Williams, Sickboy, Zoe Power, David Shillinglaw, Lucy Austin, Rosalind Robinson and Dan Rawlings.
2 Upper Maudlin Street, Bristol BS2 8DJ