For about the past 15 years, Tom Holmes has been making work about the funerary. The bulletin board in an urban community appears as a processional memento mori from its back view: a cross stapled or twist-tied to a stiff surface for appliqués. Such a pennants were carried through Rome behind Caesar’s processions of memorializing victory, before his public assassination. This alignment between form and death anchors Holmes’ work in post-minimalism. This abstraction shadows the forms in his sculpture and painting. Holmes began his practice in performance art, and continues to observe civic phenomena, expanding it to occupy a singular subject.
His recent show, Go Back to PARTYCITY® at von ammon co meditates on Halloween decor as memento mori. Children’s toys appear around hit-and-run memorials and celebrity-death honorariums. These infantilizing, plastic objects carry grief, and replace the cyclical nature of life with object permanence. The stuffed animals, silver balloons and cable network characters in Holmes’ work outlast one’s adolescence and appear at one’s death. Historically Halloween sought to ward off lost souls and roaming evil spirits, but now animates plastic with spirit. Holmes seeks to resurrect the art historical practices of funerary objects in vanitas paintings, grave markers and urns.
Holmes’ sculptures appear as reliquaries holding human remnants; a cinderblock wrapped in a flattened cereal box with a wedge of human skull; a group of untouched, studio folding chairs. Holmes’ time in Robert Tuttle’s studio supports his abstraction of form with concept: immortality/plastic, movement/animation, aesthetics/graphics. Holmes’ work prods a collective memory of finite possessions, whether art historical modes or commercial ingestions, and commemorates consciousness; life.
Tom Holmes (b. Ozona, TX, lives and works in Putnam Co. & Jackson Co., TN) received a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA from the University of California Los Angeles. Select solo exhibitions include REALTREE®, Bureau, New York, 2019; L’EGGO MY EGGO®, Bureau, New York, 2017; Temporary Monument, Kunsthalle Bern, 2013; Piss Yellow / Bars & Stars, Bureau, New York, 2013; Part of This Complete Breakfast: objects for a wake, Galerie Catherine Bastide, Brussels, 2012; and Painted Bones - some reliquaries, Bureau, New York, 2011. Their work has been included in group exhibitions at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Georgia; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Contemporary Art Biennial, Sélestat, France; Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden and the Whitney Museum at Altria, New York. Their work is in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Stiftung Kunsthalle Bern, FRAC Bourgogne, and the Tang Museum at Skidmore College.
REALTREE® at Bureau, New York, 2019
L'EGGO MY EGGO® at Bureau, New York, 2017
Borrowed Alibis at Freymond-Guth Fine Arts Ltd, Zurich, Switzerland, 2015
Untitled Arrangement, 2014, cut archival inkjet print, dimensions unframed 82.6 x 58.4 cm, 1/5 + 2AP
Untitled Arrangement, 2014, cut archival inkjet print, dimensions unframed 116.8 x 58.4 cm, 1/5 + 1AP
Piss Yellow / Bars and Stars at Bureau, New York, 2013
untitled Arrangement, 2012, acrylic paint, Mountain Dew cans, steel wire, plywood, 24 × 24 in.
untitled Death Mask, 2013, folding chair, 38 × 18 × 2 1/2 in.
untitled Arrangement, 2013, cinder blocks, mule bones, steel wire, acrylic paint, 23 × 42 × 54 in.
Temporary Monument at Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland, 2013