Julia Holden opens City Gallery exhibition painting art, on an artist

Julia Holden finds a calming intimacy in painting on people.

The Christchurch-based artist visits Wellington’s City Gallery on Saturday for a live performance in which she paints a mix of Liz Maw’s self-portrait and Blue Girl paintings directly on artist Emily Hartley-Skudder and uses them as a living canvas before taking pictures treat you.

The performance is part of Holden’s ongoing I’m Your Fan series, in which she transforms people into their favorite images and examines how artists bond over time – Maw’s Blue Girl is a nod to Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy.

“It’s a very nice crossover work,” said Holden, adding that artists always looked to other artists for inspiration, influence and camaraderie.

Julia Holden's 'Leo' (Sam Clague, after Rita Angus), 2016.

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Julia Holden’s ‘Leo’ (Sam Clague, after Rita Angus), 2016.

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“It’s this dynamic conversation that artists are in all the time. Even when you are working alone, you are referring to things that are already in the world. “

In her work, Holden refers to the artist Boo Ritson, who also paints directly on people.

Holden’s performance marks the beginning of a new exhibition opening in the City Gallery entitled Every Artist, in which artists rethink and re-depict art history.

Holden transforms Wellington-based artist Sam Clague.

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Holden transforms Wellington-based artist Sam Clague.

Much like Holden’s work, the exhibition is “a bit meta,” said senior curator Aaron Lister.

“It includes 12 artists and at least 20 artist employees. Hundreds of other artists are pictured, listed, called, played or performed. Of course, no exhibition can hold every single artist, but it contains more than normal, ”he said.

Perhaps that’s why Holden, whose work can also be seen in the exhibition, is so relevant alongside his opening.

She said doing her job was an intimate process, with a bubble of close communication that often formed between her and her subject. “Especially when I’m working on her face, most artists say that being stroked by a strong brush is pretty comforting,” she said.

Holden's 'Lady With Ermine' (Miranda Parkes, after Elizabeth Peyton).

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Holden’s ‘Lady With Ermine’ (Miranda Parkes, after Elizabeth Peyton).

“I can’t do it without her … the idea is inevitable.”

Like the exhibition, Holden’s work questions the idea of ​​the artist as a “genius” or as an idea that has suggested “to have appeared out of nowhere … [in a] wonderful, fully trained path ”.

Holden said artists are shaped by their time and by their environments, experiences and encounters with other artists. “The reality is that we’re talking all the time.”

Meanwhile, the performative aspect of her work forces viewers to consider how their own presence can inform or shape what appears before their eyes.

Holden's 'Odalisque' (Audrey Baldwin, after Guerilla Girls), 2016.

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Holden’s ‘Odalisque’ (Audrey Baldwin, after Guerilla Girls), 2016.

At the end of the process and while your subject is transformed into an almost three-dimensional sculpture, Holden photographs them in a “completely floating moment” before they are allowed to return to reality.

“It’s very rewarding in several ways. We each bring our own practice. There are different conversations and it feels pretty gentle – there is a nice exchange going on. We learn from each other. For me as an artist, it’s a wonderful experience. “

  • Holden will perform in the City Gallery from 3 p.m. on Saturday, book rooms online, koha, Every Artist runs until July 25th, admission free.

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