Loie Hollowell’s Intricate Harmony

The Complexity of Symmetry

Interview and portrait by Sasha Bogojev

The Fascination of Figuration

Figuration, in all its forms, captivates us – whether it be formal and idealized, narrative-driven, or exaggerated. There is an undeniable allure to the merging of abstraction and figuration. Loie Hollowell’s elegant and radiant creations have caught our attention. While her earlier works focused on female nudes, her latest imagery continues to hint at the human form, with a special emphasis on the female body. Hollowell’s visual language elevates flat geometric components into a figurative, almost sculptural sphere, captivating viewers with her unique approach to volume, surface, and texture.

A Symphony of Materials and Techniques

Hollowell’s artistic process involves layering high-density foam and sawdust on a panel, creating a sophisticated foundation for her work. The addition of oil and acrylic, applied with delicate yet determined strokes, adds the finishing touches. Departing from the flat surface, Hollowell’s artworks offer seductive portrayals of bodily landscapes reminiscent of sacred iconography. Though deceptively simple in their symmetrical compositions, the true complexity of her work unfolds in impeccable gradients, supple brushwork, and vibrant colors. Each composition speaks of deeply personal narratives, delving into intimate experiences such as sexuality, fertility, and childbirth.

An Insightful Conversation with Loie Hollowell

Shifting from Figurative to Abstract

When asked about her transition from figurative beginnings in grad school to more abstract work, Hollowell reveals a deeply personal motivation. Her exploration of the human form began with the depiction of her ex-boyfriend, which eventually led to their separation. Interestingly, her ex-partner was uncomfortable with the sexual scenes depicted in her paintings. This pivotal moment propelled Hollowell to shift her focus towards self-portraits, which gradually evolved into more stylized and cartoony representations. However, she knew there was still more she wanted to express, a desire to convey deeper core emotions that couldn’t be encapsulated by the figure alone.

The Power of Abstraction in Personal Expression

Hollowell’s journey into abstraction sprang from intense personal experiences related to her own body. She grappled with the challenge of portraying profound moments such as having an abortion without relying on representational imagery. By venturing into abstraction, she found a way to create emotional paintings rather than descriptive ones. These artworks allow viewers to perceive the intimate stories behind them, free from rigid interpretation. Hollowell’s unique approach bridges the gap between abstraction and figuration, resulting in paintings that resonate on a personal level while captivating the viewer with their abstract qualities.

A Multidimensional Experience

Surpassing Surface-Level Perception

When discussing the importance of understanding the content of her artworks, Hollowell emphasizes her focus on creating a phenomenological experience for the viewers. While the initial encounter with her works may occur through digital platforms like Instagram, she stresses the significance of experiencing them in person. Hollowell finds value in the tangible interaction between viewers and the dimensional space of her paintings. The textures, layers, and brushwork come alive in the presence of the audience, elevating the artwork beyond mere representational imagery.

The Illusory Nature of Social Media

Addressing the influence of social media, Hollowell recognizes that platforms like Instagram tend to flatten the depth and complexity of artworks. However, she acknowledges that Instagram played a crucial role in promoting her work and attracting attention to her unique approach. While digital representations may fail to fully capture the essence of her artworks, Hollowell emphasizes that the ultimate goal is to create a genuine connection with viewers and evoke emotional responses that go beyond the limitations of a screen.

An Artist’s Inner Dialogue

Exploring Personal Themes

Delving into her motivation for focusing on personal and intimate themes, Hollowell explains that by drawing from specific aspects of her own life, she can authentically speak her truth. This approach allows her to avoid presuming to speak for others while offering a more genuine and relatable perspective. Hollowell’s works become a testament to her own experiences and emotions, creating a safe space for self-expression without attempting to make broad commentaries on universal experiences.

The Process of Conveying Emotions

Hollowell’s artistic process begins with sketching and experimenting with abstract and cartoony representations of her experiences. As she progresses, she contemplates the use of colors and forms to encapsulate the essence of those emotions. Her paintings are deeply rooted in personal encounters, enabling her to authentically express emotions that cannot be easily portrayed through figurative imagery alone. Each stroke and composition stem from real-life encounters, creating a heartfelt visual narrative that resonates with audiences.

Challenges and Inspirations

Pushing the Boundaries of Painting

One of Hollowell’s most fascinating aspects is her ability to introduce sculptural elements into her paintings, creating a unique interplay between light, shadow, and paint. While she acknowledges the inherent challenges in working with three-dimensional spaces, Hollowell finds great joy in exploring these boundaries. Manipulating light and shadow within a fully sculptural context offers her new artistic possibilities and a chance to challenge traditional notions of painting.

Inspiration from Contemporary and Historical Artists

Throughout her career, Hollowell has drawn inspiration from fellow artists who explore themes related to the body and personal experiences. Artists like Roland Schimmel and Kinke Kooi have influenced her in various ways, encouraging her to embrace discussions surrounding her artwork. Schimmel’s conceptual approach and focus on subtle shifts in perception resonated with Hollowell, while Kooi’s unapologetic and sensual figurative drawings served as a reminder of the power of embracing personal themes and experiences in art.

The Beauty of Imperfect Symmetry

The Natural Language of Symmetry

Hollowell’s symmetrical compositions flow naturally from her personal perception of her body. The exploration of symmetry stemmed from years of creating symmetrical drawings and studying the distorted nature of capturing one side of the face. While not particularly intentional, Hollowell’s works reflect her innate tendency to view her body from a frontal perspective. However, she acknowledges that perfect symmetry is not her primary goal, as imperfections and subtle changes lend a human touch to her compositions.

Unleashing the Potential of Sculptural Painting

Having experimented with various materials and techniques, Hollowell is drawn to the application of unconventional materials and the challenges they present. Her familiarity with the sculptural world, influenced by her sculptor husband, enables her to incorporate materials such as high-density foam and sawdust into her artworks. Through a meticulous process of sculpting, sanding, and applying molding paste, Hollowell transforms two-dimensional surfaces into three-dimensional works of art. This fusion of painting and sculpture blurs the lines between the two mediums, resulting in captivating and unique artistic expressions.

Future Aspirations and Boundless Creativity

Embracing New Artistic Possibilities

Hollowell envisions future projects that push the boundaries of her current practice. One ongoing dream project involves creating large, wall-sized artworks that challenge the distinction between sculpture and painting. By incorporating elements like water or manipulating the way water interacts with the artworks, Hollowell aims to create immersive and thought-provoking experiences for viewers. Her aspiration to explore new mediums and techniques demonstrates her unwavering dedication to innovative and boundary-pushing art.

In conclusion, Loie Hollowell’s artistic journey is one fueled by personal experiences, experimentation, and a commitment to expressing deep emotions. Her unique fusion of abstraction and figuration captivates viewers with its symmetrical compositions, sophisticated textures, and vibrant colors. Through her art, Hollowell invites us to explore the complexity of the human experience, challenging us to perceive beyond the surface and engage in a deeper dialogue with our own emotions and narratives.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did Loie Hollowell’s personal experiences shape her transition from figurative to abstract art?

Hollowell’s personal experiences, including her breakup with an ex-boyfriend, influenced her decision to shift from figurative to abstract art. These experiences, particularly the need to express deeper core emotions beyond the constraints of representational imagery, motivated her exploration of abstraction.

2. How does Loie Hollowell’s use of unconventional materials contribute to her artistic process?

Loie Hollowell’s use of unconventional materials, such as high-density foam and sawdust, adds dimension and texture to her artworks. These materials, combined with meticulous application of oil and acrylic, allow her to create sculptural effects that elevate her compositions into a unique figurative sphere.

3. What is the significance of symmetry in Loie Hollowell’s art?

Symmetry plays an integral role in Loie Hollowell’s art, reflecting her innate tendency to view her body from a frontal perspective. While perfect symmetry is not her goal, the imperfections within her compositions add a human touch, enhancing the emotional depth of her works.

4. How does Loie Hollowell’s art challenge traditional notions of painting?

Loie Hollowell’s fusion of painting and sculpture challenges traditional notions of painting by introducing sculptural elements and manipulating light and shadow. Her experimentation with three-dimensional spaces and unconventional materials broadens the possibilities of traditional painting, blurring the boundaries between mediums and creating captivating visual experiences.

5. What are Loie Hollowell’s future aspirations as an artist?

Loie Hollowell aspires to explore new artistic possibilities, including large-scale artworks that blur the line between sculpture and painting. She envisions incorporating elements like water into her future projects, aiming to create immersive and thought-provoking experiences for viewers.