ANDREW HOLMES (b.1947)
1955 Buick 1979
gouache on card
signed with initials; signed, dated, and inscribed with title on a label on the reverse
21 x 31 ins (53.3 x 78.7 cm)
Born in 1947 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Andrew Holmes moved to London in 1966, and attended
the Architectural Association. He is best known for a series of 100 realistic pencil drawings exploring the apparently anonymous mobile infrastructure of cities. In addition however his work encompasses printmaking, photography, film, and design. The work offers not the unique quality of handicraft, but the elements of three traditions: that art is evidence, and of an ability to select significant objects, things from experience; that art is the residue of engaging the existing systems with particular mechanical techniques and processes; and that art provides the possibility of fabricating new versions of reality.
These procedures he organises as Messages, Arrangements, and Nonuments under the principles of
Informalism. The work in all its forms has been exhibited and published widely for forty years. Holmes was Professor of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, was formerly Guest Professor at the Technische Universitaat, Berlin, and a Visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Institute. He lives and works in London.
Using motor vehicles as a point of reference, the hyperreal pencil drawings of English artist Andrew Holmes explore the impact of an oil hungry civilisation. Through his exquisitely rendered pencil on paper compositions, Holmes displays the luminance and mystique of the automobile that has captured the imagination of so many since its creation.
Holmes’ portrayal of luxury motorcycles creates a conceptual dialogue of modernity’s influence on design, social trends and technology, while his depictions of decaying vehicles in a salvage yard explore human attitudes towards expiration.
From an artistic perspective, Holmes creates extraordinary resemblances that reflect the surface of the subject as well as the realm around it. Similar to a mirror reflection, the viewer synchronously shifts between the vehicle and the world around them, between reality and fantasy, as they project themselves into these imaginary scenes. This conceptual leap transforms the routine into the remarkable and the automobile into looking glass.
Holmes’s most favoured subject matter has always been Los Angeles, or rather, the lines of transportation that artificially sustain the city across the harsh surrounding desert. The concatenations of mobile structures on the American highway (trucks, trailers, tanks), with their permanent industrial armature (which channels, fills, fuels, unloads, washes) are for him the great architecture of America.
The process of drawing (as seen so effectively in Holmes’s work) is the process of investing a photographic trace of the fragment, with the sense of its sublime, ungraspable whole. That investment is effected through all the small decision over emphasis, contract and simplification taken through time. The self-denying discipline involved yields a palpable tension in the words, particularly in the achingly sustained areas of unbroken colour.
– Thomas Crow, extract from Modern Art in the Common Culture