it is not what i see
the dankness, the brown mustiness deeply integrated into fathomless pits of
earth under earth
the sharp, excited green of new life,
new promises prim and contained each leaf shape.
the frilly, delicate ferns lacy tendrils
the albino white patches on trunks of trees blending into sap green,
mouldy dark – so unexpected
the intricacies of branch crossing branch crossing twig,
the whistle quietness and subdued secrecy of winding paths
earth under earth
Nina Holmes returns to Eclectica Contemporary this August with her second solo exhibition at our gallery titled ‘it is not what i see”. This show was largely informed by a landscape painting workshop in Karatara, near Knysna, that Holmes attended earlier this year. Working instinctively and through a process of reflecting on all her senses, the pieces reflect an urge to make visual what is heard, smelled, touched and emotionally experienced while working in a new and alive environment.
On returning to her studio in Cape Town, a process of reflection and translation began. She attempted to recapture and re-experience the forest with the experience of working ‘en plain air’. Holmes filled her studio with the studies she had created and brought back with her. Speaking of her experience of working in Karatara she described the concurrent dualities of nature:
“The apparent lazy serenity of blissful farm life, blue skies, distant rumble of the local woodchoppers, snorting of horses, undulating valleys versus the harsh sun beating down on one side of one’s face, unexpected gusts of wind sending materials flying, the swarms of relentless mosquitoes in the forest, stinging rain, the difficulty in lugging one’s own equipment through unwelcoming terrain”.
Colours and textures spread across her canvasses, around the space, and across vision in abstraction that invoke the ambivalence of nature, occupying space, and interacting, within it. Each painting offers abstracted motifs that bounce across and between the works, with clues and hints in the titling that point to inspirations and anecdotes.
For this exhibition Holmes has mostly worked large, creating a kind of vast landscape to work on. Inspired by the work of Fabienne Verdier, Holmes painted on loose canvasses taped to the floor, working aerially. She worked quickly, instinctively, mainly painting with acrylic to allow for speed, spontaneity and improvisation. Trying to recapture elements of working outside, using her memory to recall and record: the single tree, the intersection of branches, the shouting of hens. Recurrent motifs, abstracted forms seemed to reappear again and again.
“It is not what I see. I have tried to look at each work and really feel what the painting needs and wants as opposed to superimposing any idea of preconceived outcome. I have tried to become comfortable with not knowing.”
There is also the implied understanding of the show’s title, that it is not about what the artist sees, but what the viewer sees or experiences. Holmes holds the belief that while some knowledge of the artist’s intentions and methods may allow for greater appreciation of specific work, the viewer may experience something entirely different to the artist’s original ideas and intended outcomes.
With a collection of works on canvas and framed works on paper, Holmes returns with a body of work that speaks through her evocative use of colours, illusion and allusion. In our gallery, run by womxn, we are excited and honoured to celebrate the work of incredible womxn artists for the month of August, and are thrilled to present this solo exhibition by Nina Holmes in this context.
– Clare Patrick