On January 11, 2024, Jessica Silverman will open “In Transition,” a solo exhibition of new bas-relief paintings by Loie Hollowell. In an age of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, an essential calling of art is to explore the fundamentals of being human and reunite people with the earthly, animal, corporeal realities that AIs don’t have. Hollowell is a leader in this domain, not because she is strategic or opportunistic, but because she feels the mission in her bones.
“In Transition” consists of ten paintings that spotlight a three-dimensional belly, whose shape has shifted from the oval of pregnancy to the orb of a planet. In each work, the central sphere radiates waves of luminous energy, suggesting the sentience of an embryo, the birth of the universe, and the power of evolutionary life. The palette of the ten works graduates from sunny, light, and airy yellows to inundated, nocturnal hues. Meanwhile, the diameter of a red circle at the bottom of the painting enlarges from a pinpoint in the first painting, One Centimeter Dilated, to a burning red orb in Ten Centimeters Dilated, the final piece in the cycle. Hollowell enjoys the literalism of the painting’s titles as they mark the climax in narratives of “expecting” and are a supreme spatial indicator of time.
Hollowell has a paradoxical relationship to the sense of sight. The artist privileges touch and other embodied sensory systems, such as our sense of time passing, proprioception (location in space), balance, acceleration, deceleration, and appetite. Contrary to popular myth, we don’t have five senses, but at least thirty-three. Hollowell excavates these internal senses and then visualizes them with an array of stylistic techniques from Aqua-Resin casts to lightly painted swirls, stucco-effect sponge dabs, and restraining lines made with angle brushes. Ultimately, Hollowell spectacularizes the tactile with such audacity that her works make a significant contribution to Op art, visionary abstraction, and eco-feminist spiritualism.
A wry sense of humor also pervades Hollowell’s work. In this cycle of paintings that retells the story of Genesis from a matriarchal perspective, the artist has managed to evoke an apple in every work. By these means, these paintings pirouette on a tightrope between the visceral and the playful, gritty and lofty, intimate and infinite.
“In Transition” will run from January 11 through March 2, 2024.
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