Toasters with Attitude
By Elizabeth Licata

great indoors
Patrick Holderfield, Untitled (toaster), 1999.
Thirty-two-year-old Patrick Holderfield has made considerable strides since he finished his art degree here in Buffalo. Now based in Seattle, the artist has received such marks of kudos as a show at the Seattle Art Museum and favorable press in national publications such as Sculpture Magazine.

Holderfield returns to Buffalo this month to show recent work in the gallery that gave him one of his first shows, Big Orbit. I remember that show as being mostly busy and exuberant paintings, filled with semi-recognizable iconography and gestural slashes of paint.

His new work seems to overflow with energy too—and this time the overflow is quite literal. These days, Holderfield is working with what people in the art world call “found objects,” but which everybody else calls “toaster,” “car,” “shoe,” etc., depending on what they are. Anyway, Holderfield takes these relics removed from reality and fills them—quite energetically—with tinted insulating foam. They end up looking like organic matter of a semi-recognizable kind. The sculptures could be disgusting, but they end up being rather fun.

Given the cool intellectualism of so much contemporary art, Holderfield’s messy, funny objects are brash and passionate. As other critics have pointed out, the ties to expressionism so evident in his earlier paintings have been strengthened and enhanced by his move to three-dimensional work.

The Big Orbit Show will happen from May 19 through July. There may also be a Pan-Am (what else?) related storefront installation in downtown Buffalo.


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