Frank Pollard’s art occupies a world of unreality with uncanny similarities to our own. Creatures and ideas freely traverse from one universe to the other, using Frank and his dreams as a conduit.
The images created by Frank, messenger, agent, documenter and victim, are variously tools, creatures, locations, and weapons. His methods of construction range from paint to installation to miniatures to video. All are blended aesthetically, but even deeper lie themes of aggression, possession, and mystery.
None of this work goes over-the-top Frazetta fantasy. A sense of humor and serendipity pervades Frank’s creations. The same applies to Frank Pollard the person, a guy who showed up to a Chicago bar recently with a newly purchased Jurassic Park VHS, excited to watch during his most excellent Safari punk fashion phase. When I pointed out the tape was in Spanish, this delighted Frank even more.
A few friends and I at a Chicago brunch (including Velcro Lewis/ Andy Slater, above) recently lamented: “Why isn’t Frank famous?” despite the prolific series of shows spanning fifteen years (and Lamb of God tribute song). In a twisted art-world reality, artists who spend more time creating work as opposed to promoting themselves have less opportunity to succeed.
This kills me about the gallery scene and the art world in general. Artists play an unfair game. Not only must they operate in an outdated business model completely in favor of gallery owners. Popularity, trendiness, and favoritism drive success more often than not. I love that Frank’s technically trained, yet most academics, after a glance, would call his work “outsider.” I like the idea of working outside anything you’re supposed to do, especially in the realms of creativity.
I asked Frank a few questions on his latest projects:
We watched “Other People’s Cats” together recently. You pointed out the moment where the girl holding her cat Lucky “turns into her cat.” I saw it too! Did you start that series with that intent, or did it become apparent after filming?
That whole project started as a weird knee jerk reaction I had to the boom of cats on the Internet. All the love and affection was stripped from these cat strangers making it as valueless as pornography. Taking video of the cats interacting with their owners in a private way was what I was after…whatever the outcome.
When I, as a viewer in general, walk out of a Frank Pollard show, do you want me to be experiencing an explicit emotion or feeling or thought?
I really just want get across how large this world like ours is massive. And just as complicated, if not more dangerous to navigate. It could be overwhelming. I know it is for me. Most of the work comes from me being lucid when I dream, and forced to exist in this art source dream world without rules.
The work has been called bleak. But I always thought it was the opposite. It’s hopeful and proactive and the tools can be built to survive and exist in this dream state, awake. If these tools or concepts help people, that would be great. I have been treating myself like I’m an explorer. And the works are the notes from an unknown world. The videos exist in this same world but because of the nature of video and the act of watching they are presented in the way of private acts under surveillance, or documentation of these strange events.
I think your work does function as a tool. When I bought those four paintings from you, I picked the tools and not the monsters. I knew I needed them in my house, because after years of dreamless sleep, my dreams are actually starting to come back and speak to me. This is huge. I put great priority on translating my dreams as a teenager, and at some point in my 20’s I lost that ability. Other people have had dreams about me lately, and being in Chicago recently, where I ran away to from Las Vegas as a teen, I feel has brought me nearer to this psychic space I discovered years ago.
I’m under the impression I’m documenting these events and thoughts for anyone willing to travel this road. I actually feel as though I’m exploring a strange new world, and enjoy sharing my discoveries.
Your work is often set in highly inaccessible places: movie spoilers that don’t spoil anything, distant bedrooms, dream realms. Are you conscious of this theme?
It’s defiantly about finding a brave new frontier where nothing is new. I’m definitely conscious of this. It’s what attracts me to it. Some people climb mountains. The world used to be so big and unknown, and that was good thing. It’s still big and unknown. To me at least.
Of your diverse mediums, is there a favorite, or one you’d like to explore in the future?
Not sure. They are all so intertwined at this point, I’m not even sure I can say. After dreaming of a strange object its only natural for me to do some drawing for the painting, then build it on a miniature scale, then shoot it on video. I would like to do more live action reenactments of dream events. That seems to be where all this is heading.
What are you looking to explore in the future? What’s next and exciting?
Right now the unconscious dream narrative has been taking me to some strange territories. In the dream I have been looking for a place called the “Great Wilderness.” I’m not entirely sure why I’m being drawn there, but I’m under the impression that I will find the answer to “why” when I get there. It’s possible I’m not to supposed to find out why, and this has caused a great hesitance for the first time.
Frank is one of my favorite artists ever. He works because he must. He’s not a product of a “scene” or “movement.” His work evolves from piece to piece, but stays true to his dreams. Literally.
Find and follow more of Frank Pollard’s work here:
Tumblr: Agency Observation
Tumblr: Empty Chatrooms
Vimeo: Frank Pollard
Artslant: Frank Pollard