Emilia Holt


Artist reception Saturday 7th May 12 noon - 6pm

Exhibition 7th May - 4th June 2022

Open Saturdays 12-5pm or by appointment 

Emilia Holt paints spaces or structures that are never quite what they first appear to be; planes tilt and jostle for position, light sources come from undisclosed locations, surfaces are penetrable, spaces shift from foreground to background. Blurring the line between landscape, figuration, architecture and still life, Holt creates a kind of experimental system that holds its own internal logic. With each painting the eye is lead across its various parts through line, rhythm, repetition, directional motion, tone and texture.


Holt is interested in a slow process of observation that reveals new and different understandings of things which are initially unfamiliar. She believes that only with long slow absorption can the unknown be penetrated and explored, allowing subtler connections to suggest themselves. Inspired by the metaphysical landscape paintings of Arnold Böcklin and Giorgio de Chirico and the late still lives of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, she is fascinated by the borderline where our understanding of something that seems inert can suddenly flip becomes charged and meaningful - what she calls “the brink of revelation”. 


The two most recent paintings in the exhibition apply this thinking to re-examine portraits by Chardin (Girl with Racket and Shuttlecock) and Diego Velázquez (The Lady with a Fan). Holt is intrigued by how the sensitive portrayals of these artists are at once imbued with such transient qualities, yet have been contorted into rigorous geometries. Triangles and arcs define a two-dimensional space where almost no angles are the same, but the structure holds perfectly in balance. Taken a step further in these new interpretations, the entire picture plane becomes enmeshed with the subject, losing almost all objectivity. The identities of the sitters in the original paintings are now unknown, for Holt this adds further doubt and fragmentation to the structure - like an inbuilt self-consciousness. These works present a constantly shifting meeting place between the artist now (Holt), the painters who created the original works and the subjects themselves.


Emilia Holt (b. 1978) grew up in Switzerland but has lived and worked in London since 1998. Graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London in 2007 (MA Fine Art). Exhibitions include: Thank You and I Mean That Very Very Sincerely, 303 Projects, Lowestoft (2021); Spectre of the Real, SEAS, Brighton (2019); Speak, Clown! Fold Gallery, London (2013); Out Under, Mayola Space, London (2011); Drawing with Dolphins, Crimes Town Gallery, London (2008); The Worst Gift Is a Fruitcake, Ferreira Projects, London (2008); Growbag, The Art Pavillion, London (2006); Between Anger and Nonsense, Galerie Schuster, Frankfurt (2006); Nihilism 2, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London (2004); Microchasm, ACME Studios, London (2003); Dinge, Bishopsgate Goods Yard, London (2002)