T he Loie Hollowell trademark is to work from the palette of the body electric, a tete a tete with intimacy that overlays a deeper spiritual experience. Hollowell works in abstraction, taking a familiarity with her own body – its trials, stresses, and pleasures – and creates distance through shape-making, play of light, form abstraction and colour. The artist’s canvases both exude and soak in volumes of light. Colour movement and curved lines articulate the sensual realm, but are also a work of examination. Admirers of Hollowell find depth of meaning and symbology in her focus on the body, yet the texture of her painterly touch coaxes from the subject the philosophical foundations of its core.
“Often there will be a light source‚ a stream of light that penetrates the entire dimension of the canvas. The light moves through the action in the painting‚ or the action is coming out of the stream of light. Those areas of chiaroscuro and high-intensity light are places of arousal. The pulsing light is like the body's energy—the pulsing of sex or the pulsing of the heart. During climax it feels like there's a bright light pouring out of me‚ like I'm going to explode. That's the kind of light energy I want to create in my paintings."
Lick Lick in Orange and Blue, painted in 2015, comes from a period in Hollowell’s career that followed one of her first shows in New York, AHHA at 106 Green in Brooklyn. During that time, Hollowell was using the canvas to explore a playful and abstracted discourse on the body through the use of concepts involving light and architectural design found in Islamic and medieval art.
In this particular canvas, the subject matter and its light and flow are hypnotic, radiating from the centre in waves. In its shape, presentation, tone and colours, it invites the viewer to get closer as much as it presents an almost transcendentalist depiction of movement and display. Its oil on linen invitation is perhaps best interpreted as a visual metaphor, a type of pleasure poem that vibrates with a harmonious constant sexual energy. While it is clearly a depiction of a part of the artist’s own body, Hollowell has said in interviews that she put great effort into borrowing stylisation and inspiration from the Transcendental Painting Group to remove the body and its features from an anatomical dissection and instead “bring it into a more formal space,” (Hollowell, Interview at PAFA, January 2022).
The flow of undulating lines, the finely articulated blending of pattern and colour around the curved and lobed edges, all reveal a pathway to the soul centre of light which emanates from the body’s climax, according to Hollowell, but that also affords the viewer and the painter a bit of formalistic distance to appreciate the almost architectural stylisations and harmony.
In so doing, the artist uses Lick Lick as a discourse between the paint and light in the canvas to create an intimate connection between matter (body) and light (soul), and experience (wisdom). Through the embrace of light, color, and curves of the painting, one undergoes the transcendence from the body to the ultimate goal of the erotic: to bathe in light, and to experience pleasure and its wisdom.
In a look at the Hollowell oeuvre, what started out as serial encounters with orgasm and inner light earlier in her career has journeyed into motherhood, fertility, gender, identity, and politics.
Hollowell was born in 1983 in Northern California. She is known for her work involving the body, sensuality, explorations of motherhood and gender identity, and displays profound sensual abstraction through her play of light, curves, vibrating surfaces and work with layers. The artist had her first solo show in 2015 at 106 Green in Brooklyn, New York. She has shown four times at Pace Galleries since 2017, including the exhibitions Loie Hollowell: Point of Entry in Palo Alto, California, Loie Hollowell: Dominant / Recessive in London, Loie Hollowell: Switchback in Hong Kong, and Loie Hollowell: Contractions in Palm Beach, Florida.
Hollowell made her auction debut at Sotheby’s in May 2018, when Transformation in Green and Red sold for US$68,750, which was more than three times the higher estimate. Since then, Hollowell has continued to reach new records in successive years, driven by the artist’s rising international appeal and strong market demand, especially in Asia. The luminous and beguiling Linked Lingams (yellow, green, blue, purple, pink) realised HK$16.5 million (US$2.1 million) at a Sotheby's Hong Kong auction in June 2021, setting the current artist record worldwide.