“Yep, I care about people, …and that’s what she said.”
Dale Frank - 2023

From a distance we have become familiar with the people in Dale Frank's titles, their complexities continue to embed depths of character into the artists paintings. Some story arcs span decades, chapters long at times, while with others we’ve only had a few short years to get to know them. Whether it be a long-standing relationship or a recent acquaintance, the titles imbue us with a great sense of familiarity towards these people. As flawed as they seem, they are relatable. 

But then again, they are characters, narratives in multiple simultaneous streamed Stan like stories, not unlike our own lives, disconnected, fractured, meeting together, at yet another Dale Frank exhibition, each daring to ask,….like Frank does, …..could we have not done more.

Laura, Jason and Evelyn are some of the returning cast for Franks 36th solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Laura last checked in two years ago while she was working at the MCA. Her questionable behaviour of pleasuring herself at work (2021) clearly resulted in a termination of her position at the Sydney institution. Gossip spread quicker than Laura’s hairy thighs (2021), resulting in a forced career change and a move interstate to Melbourne. While caring in nature, Laura’s desires still see her seeking arousal at work (2023). But She had to drive all the way to Albury to return a call and say she could not make it for dinner in Carlton with the dealer that was hitting on her. If things don’t work out with her new job, there is always Adelaide.

Jason has been finding it hard to keep his impulsions at bay. A kleptomaniac and secret crossdresser at first (2021), he has had trouble keeping a steady girlfriend over the years, always developing a closer bond with his girlfriends’ father (2021). His pool construction company has been rather successful, yet his eagerness to bond with his young male apprentices has landed him in some deep water (2023).

As far as we know Evelyn and Belinda could still be Surry Hills (2021) and appear to be working out some issues, but that’s Belinda’s problem, not Evelyn’s (2023).

Like the characters, Dale Frank's practice has been on display for over the past four decades, if we choose to follow them. From a distance we have watched it grow, glow and evolve, yet always familiar, always completely new, always changing, never disappointing, constantly relatable.

Frank was once asked in a group interview, …...I really like your earlier work but not so much your work now.

Frank said: … YOU were 8 years old you, you were in an elevator with your mother, and a 38 yo man smiled at you. You never forgot that. When you were 14 you liked a boy at school who you did not yet understand, but he had the same smile and you lost your virginity. When you were 19 you went backpacking in Europe with a guy, the love of your life, who had them same smile. When you were 26 you married a guy, who had the same smile, but it did not work out. 

All the time you did not know you were looking for that same connection, that same smile. You have grown, you are 40 yo, but your basic desires are the same. That desire for the same smile always existed…. But your growth had socially complicated and blinded you to how you read and saw that inital smile you saw so many years ago in that elevator with your mother. Your mother is now hospitalised with Dementia in St Vincents, and Evelyn, you are now free.

Such is the value of Art, our stories are free. Despite being laden down with the baggage of others, art is easy enough for us for those with strength to carry it forward, especially at this time.

Andrew Moran and Dale Frank

View exhibition