The Homage Series
In his downtown Brooklyn studio, above the noise and confusion of 21st century life, Frank Lind has carved out a painter’s existence. By using “old master” techniques of careful composing, analysis of formal relationships, underpainting and glazing, he does not mimic bygone traditions but uses painterly tools to make art that comes alive. Some call this work “slow painting”—just as the “slow food” movement preserves traditions of food and eating, so does this art preserve concepts and ways of working still relevant today.
In 2001, the Metropolitan Museum of Art showed Vermeer’s “The Woman Holding a Balance,” usually seen at the National Gallery in Washington DC. As a Georgetown undergraduate, this woman in a blue cape was a constant inspiration to Lind, and during her run in New York City, he decided to act on a longing to see her more often. Assembling as many reproductions of the picture as possible and punctuating the process by frequent visits to the Met to see the real thing, he made his own Vermeer.
He says it was like channeling a genius—an uncanny experience. Thus began Lind’s “Altered Art History” series, leading him next to Corot, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent wherein he integrated contemporary nudes (from his own models) into 19th century compositions. In another approach, he placed a model in Sargent poses, e.g. “Madame X,” only instead of the woman being dressed in a dramatic black gown, she is nude. In these “updated” versions of old works, mysteries are compounded rather than exposed and deconstructed.
One of his latest series, painted in painstaking two-point perspective, depicts female figures in a room with a chair and a rug, flanked by well-known paintings that hang on the walls: Sargents, Vermeers, Sorollas, etc. These moody and mysterious women invoke a timeless dimension, emanating the dark, caramel tones of Odd Nerdrum, but inhabiting familiar studio interiors instead of apocalyptic landscapes. More than just models in a artist’s studio, they are figures caught in amber, stripped of specific narratives but saturated with psychological ambiguities and depths. The sexual politics of the last three centuries imbue these paintings with subtle juxtapositions and ironies.
Like Rackstraw Downes, Vincent Desiderio and Antonio Lopez Garcia, Lind’s work rises from deeply felt impulses, both logical and intuitive, to learn the ways and means of making a painting live. In these latest paintings, he has tapped into something rich and tasty.