There is something innately playful in Californian artist Evan Holloway’s inventive approach to sculpture. From colourful totems of clown-like heads with light-bulb noses to delicate multicoloured tree-like structures made from painted bronze, he has been pushing and playing with the language of objects for 20 years. Now, his latest exhibition at Los Angeles’ highly respected David Kordansky Gallery focuses on outdoor works.
This is the first time the artist has created a show purely with objects intended for display outside (priced from $150,000 to $275,000). Collectors, however, should have no fear about the longevity and planning that goes into the creation of the art. Holloway is an artist with calibre and his work features in the collections of the Whitney in New York, the Smithsonian Hirshhorn in Washington DC and Shanghai’s Jing’an Sculpture Park, as well as being included in group shows at London’s Barbican and the Castello di Rivoli in Turin.
Holloway’s approach mixes modernism with LA’s cultural heritage. There are doses of Alexander Calder here combined with the humorous aesthetic of Paul McCarthy and John Baldessari’s conceptual oomph. His works often emphasise a handmade patina or texture, even with a breadth of highly produced and varied materials such as powder-coated aluminium and aqua-resin. Things feel playful or even ephemeral, like a form of cultural Jenga.
The most exciting element the outside brings to Holloway is scale. A work entitled 28 Incense Sticks is the largest on show. The shiny cast-aluminium piece is a giant knot, with 28 holes to place incense. The burning fragrant sticks, which protrude like little hairs or nails from the giant object, add a four-dimensional scented aspect to the experience of the work. The twisting forms also resemble the number 28, a reference to the lunar cycle. Only one piece of incense is lit at a time, changing each day in connection with the waxing and waning of the moon. It may appear just fun, but the sculpture highlights man’s relationship to the macrocosm and environment.
Another piece is made with cast dead batteries – the monumental created out of something throwaway and prosaic – again with a serious nod to the horrors of environmental destruction. The exhibition also includes Holloway’s signature heads, here presented as twin stacks with their flashing bulbous noses blinking at viewers. This is an artist at the top of his game, balancing intelligence and material rigour with clownish joy.