What's it all for?
Thrush Holmes’ first solo exhibition with Unit London, What’s it all for?, presents the artist’s continuing drive to push the limits of a familiar yet specific motif. Engaging with the art historical legacy of still life, Holmes’ works explore the many permutations that can be found within a single subject. The exhibition unfolds as the latest chapter of the artist’s oeuvre, unveiling the next step in the longer story of a wider process.
Holmes has been incorporating neon into his work for over a decade, treating it in much the same way as he does paint. What’s it all for? demonstrates the artist’s intimate and highly developed relationship with the material. Neon lights weave their way through each piece, creating what the artist refers to as “illuminated gestures”. These gestures thread seamlessly through various compositions in a process that is neither overly precious nor unthinking. In many ways, the neon material is able to express more than paint, punctuating each piece in moments of striking physicality. Holmes has therefore often thought of his artworks as “ultra-graffiti”, as strips of neon slice through his compositions in an act that could almost equate to defacement. However, a sense of balance reigns over each piece as the various mediums synchronise through complementary colours and tones. In this sense, Holmes views his artworks almost as pieces of music or theatre. Each work requires different movements or different acts to generate a dynamic and visceral viewing experience.
What’s it all for? demonstrates the artist’s increasing comfort with the unknown. Working in a way that is loose and confident, Holmes never fears the possibility of failure. Typically, he works on multiple paintings at once, balancing his effort between various pieces to give his work an overriding sense of unity. The exhibition reveals the many intricacies of the artist’s practice, understanding that a piece can unfold in many ways. At times, Holmes will put away incomplete paintings for years only to return to them after a period of incubation. At others, he will execute a composition impulsively, intuitively and unapologetically. What’s it all for? therefore represents the nuance of the artist’s process, resulting in an exhibition that is diverse and spontaneous, yet harmonious and deeply considered.