Thrush Holmes: The Poetic Rocker Behind 'Heavy Painting'

 Heavy Painting, Lights Off, Installation view, Mike Weiss Gallery, New York, (with artist).


Canadian artist Thrush Holmes returns for a third solo exhibition at the Mike Weiss Gallery with his new series 'Heavy Painting'. The series is comprised of about fifteen works, mostly oil on canvas coupled with inventive materials such as driveway sealer, spray paint, gel medium and neon. Holmes, a self-taught artist and former carpenter refers to himself as a 'true tradesman' and revels in creating large-scale, physical, tangible works. The pieces exude a raw and visceral feeling yet seduce the eye with their hypnotizing allure. This becomes evident in the piece 'Anarchy', where Holmes semi-defaces a Matisse-like floral still life and inserts a skull, introducing a subliminal subversive element, which is then ultimately accessorized by a dash of neon.

Thrush Holmes, Anarchy, 2010, Oil, marker, enamel, and neon on canvas 72 x 84/ inches (182.9 cm)

It is simply impossible to ignore the gritty rock & roll culture that's present in 'Heavy Painting' - the works are loud, bold, and highly psychedelic. Walking into this show is reminiscent of walking into a dive bar in the East Village or Lower East Side but with an added level of sheen and glitz. The canvases are electric, slick, and utterly irresistible to take your eyes off of. Holmes has stated that he blasted '90s grunge rock while working in the studio, experiencing profound nostalgia in the process. 

Thrush Holmes, Beautiful Losers, 2015, Oil, oil stick, graphite, paper, gel medium, and spray paint on canvas 96 x 120 inches (243.8 x 304.8 cm)

In 'Beautiful Losers' and 'Legendary Hearts', Holmes who is 35, harks back to his previous musician days. Both works explode with a certain brashness and intensity, yet the testosterone is not overkill, there is an overwhelming amount of sincerity throughout. The beauty of these works is Holmes' ability to reveal his dual self - the gentleman and the rocker. They are one and the same. 

Thrush Holmes, Legendary Hearts, 2015, Oil, oil stick, and spray paint on canvas 96 x 121 inches (243.8 x 307.3 cm) 

At the heart of 'Heavy Painting' lies an endearing romantic quality to his work, stemming from Holmes' deep admiration for classic poets such as John Keats, Arthur Rimbaud, and Lord Byron. Holmes maintains a healthy marriage between poetry and nature. In 'Elixer', textual language complements a dreamy floral bouquet. In 'Mystical Shit', deep paint strokes of ultraviolet as well as a shock of neon magenta enhance a bucolic composition. Holmes also cites Canadian artist Tom Thomson as a significant influence in his work, Thomson is best known for his serene landscape paintings and directly inspired the Group of Seven, a group of artists who initiated the Canadian landscape art genre.

Thrush Holmes, Elixer, 2015, Oil, oil stick, and spray paint on canvas 84 x 72 inches (213.4 x 182.9 cm) TH-184

Thrush Holmes, Mystical Shit, 2015, Oil, spray paint, driveway sealer, and neon on canvas 72 x 60 inches (182.9 x 152.4 cm) 

Holmes lives and work in Toronto, has shown extensively throughout Canada and is included in permanent collections such as the Elton John Aids Foundation, Sony Dreamworks, Def Jam Records, as well as many others. 'Heavy Painting' will be on view through October 17 at the Mike Weiss Gallery in New York. Please visit for further information. WM



Jasmin Hernandez


Jasmin Hernandez is a native New Yorker with a deep passion for visual culture and a rich background in fashion, editorial and digital media. Ms Hernandez is the founder of Gallery Gurls where she covers the contemporary art world and also regularly freelances for digital outlets. Visit and Instagram and snapchat: @GALLERYGURLS

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