American painter Laurel Holloman continues her successful series of European exhibitions, after her first two solo art shows last year in Paris, France, and Venice, Italy; this time on German soil, in the heart of Berlin.
“Coeur Libre” and “Free Falling” proved that Holloman’s transition from a 20-year acting career to painting was fruitful, and solidified her reputation as an established abstract expressionism artist.
After starting small in Paris last spring at the Mairie de 5e, with the intimate, even, yet powerful “Coeur Libre,” Holloman went big, presenting just three months later in Venice's Ateneo Veneto, “Free Falling,” a collection of large scale murals. This show hasn't only earned her critical praise, but translated into the beginning of a collaborative effort with The Hart Foundation (the exhibition sponsor), and Italian NGO Emergency, founded by Dr. Gino Strada, surgeon at the Salam Cardiac Surgery Centre in Khartoum. Holloman and Strada's first result of their charitable partnership was the purchase of 22 heart valves for Sudanese children.
The artist’s next stop is Berlin’s sumptuous Palazzo Italia, a stone’s throw away from Brandenburg Gate, where her new exhibition of large scale murals called "All The World Inside” will open its doors to art aficionados and collectors from April 28 to June 23, 2013.
Digital Journal caught up with Holloman for the first time since her Parisian debut into the art world, discussing the arrival of “All The World Inside” to Berlin, the expansion of her art in Europe and her expectations, challenges and ambitions as an artist.
What’s different about your upcoming show in Berlin compared to “Free Falling” to which it’s similar in terms of the size of the paintings?
It is really a combination of two shows, but mainly a continuation of the larger murals. There are nine new murals and seven from “Free Falling.”
In your opening speech in Venice you said: “'Free Falling' is an exploration of grief, anger, forgiveness, renewal and joy. It was personal, raw and rough around the edges. 'Free Falling' to me is to jump without a net. (…) I hope to reflect a mirror back to my audience so they can see and feel some of these human emotions.” What do you explore further with your show in Berlin?
I explore the how of life with “All The World Inside.” The exhibition is full of large scale paintings that explore inner landscapes. Many of them are elemental abstract landscapes which look like water, earth, or the sky. “Free Falling” had more emotional landscapes. I wanted to continue from that direction but, with my developing style, most are color field paintings with a modern touch, in that the brushstrokes explore movement while the color field stays constant.
How did you come up with the “All The World Inside” title?
It is a title of a painting in the show. Each mural creates a small world, like something you could step into. I wanted each canvas to have its own separate cosmos.
Did you make different choices for Berlin in terms of composition, movement, color, fluidity, given the size of your murals?
No, the sizes are similar and so is the style. I consciously went into a separate color palette, which was blue, and explored many watery themes because that, to me, was missing in "Free Falling." I used more blue and grays and did not go for that resplendent lush green. It was winter and very cold in Los Angeles, and I was simultaneously painting for another solo show that has very dark and grey colors (it is almost icy) so it no doubt influenced “All The World Inside.”
“Coeur Libre” was a rather small, intimate exhibition. What are the challenges of putting together shows as big as the ones in Venice and now Berlin?
Mainly installation! Installing large pieces is so complicated and, with each time, there has been some slight chaos getting everything up and lit. Lighting these sizes is very hard. We have had great install teams and I am blessed to have Lea Mattarella [art critic for La Repubblica in Rome] as my curator.
Do you get nervous before the openings of your shows?
Yes, of course. I am more nervous about the overall look of an exhibition.
Tell me about your collaboration with Emergency. How did that come your way?
I have always worked with charities and Gino Strada is from Venezia and it was a natural fit for The Hart Foundation and for me. He is also someone that gets things done. He is a true pioneer and Emergency provides health care to the REAL victims of war (mostly women and children) without any political agenda.
How important is it for you to showcase your art in Europe?
It is very important because it has been easier for me. I am now more known as a painter in Europe not as an actor, and that is what I care about. No one really asks me questions regarding the other art form.
Last time we talked in Paris, one of your objectives was to have stronger price points. How do you come up with a profitable pricing structure for your paintings?
Venezia changed the price points from Paris and now it is possible The [Venice] Biennale will do the same, but, honestly, I care more about my paintings and where I will exhibit than anything else. My paintings don’t really fit into an average home so the buyers and collectors are of course going to be different. I do feel, as an artist, it is important to be strong right off the bat on the primary market.
Courtesy of Laurel Holloman
Quiet Alpha Male - "Free Falling" Venice, Italy (2012) and "All The World Inside" Berlin, Germany (2013)
Where do you see your art going? How big do you want it to be?
I am working on a collection of large murals which will come together with "Quiet Alpha Male" and "The Silver Lining" and it will complete a beautiful visual story. It looks like if there is time this will happen in London in the winter.
Would you say that you defined your style by now?
Do you look back at your previous shows and think there’s still something you could have changed or done better?
What are your ambitions as an artist?
To reach people and have them feel something that they never expected from a painting.
Looking over at your shows, how do you feel about your own art?
I love it and hate it and always will. I love the process! It is my addiction. I torture myself with some pieces. I want to paint over everything. I am highly obsessive compulsive in one moment and highly arrogant the next. Also, I see paintings in layers and I always want to add another layer and keep it light so you can see the previous ones. With the 11 by 14s it is more about metallics and light and with these murals I have an easier time stopping, but I have to because they take almost a year to do and they are physically demanding. I get physically and emotionally exhausted when I am done.
You have two more exhibitions coming up in Italy this year, a group ["Nell’Acqua Capisco," (In Water I Understand) at the Venice Biennale] and another solo show. What are your plans after that?
London in the winter. I work feverishly at the moment. Maybe I will need a break soon!
To learn more about Laurel Holloman’s art, news and shows visit her website.
Laurel Holloman - "All The World Inside" exhibition at Palazzo Italia, Unter Den Linden 10, 10117 Berlin, Germany. From April 28 to June 23, 2013. Opening hours: 10am – 6pm. Mondays closed except for April 29, 2013. Free entrance.