FEATURED ARTIST: Helen Hollemans
The abstract artwork of Helen Hollemans is anything but the norm. Drawing inspiration from the ideologies and works of different artists across spheres ranging from the textile design of Francois Boucher to the photography of Ansel Adams, Hollemans’ body of work is the pinnacle of self-exploration and expression from its conceptualization to its execution. Working from her studios in between the Netherlands and Spain, her love for travel takes center stage; the conceptual strength of her works a direct interpretation of her winding, well-traveled road which has taken her from Europe to Africa.
Similar to her adventures around the world, Hollemans’ adventures in art have evolved over the years and has seen her explore a multitude of mediums such as glassblowing, woodwork, screen printing, metalwork, textiles and ceramics. Originally from Leeds, the British artist attended both Jacob Kramer Art College and Manchester Polytechnic where she received a BA in Design History. It’s through this degree Hollemans was afforded the opportunity to develop a refined sensibility for multimedia techniques and ultimately led to her co-founding a design company after graduating. The sculptural pieces she created during this time have received much critical acclaim, some of which have been exhibited in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Following the recession, Hollemans made the bold decision to put her art aside and switch professions all together by taking on a job in the corporate world. A pivotal part of this switch, other than her ever broadening skill set, was all the travel that came along with it as a result.
Hollemans credits her passion for travel and personal experiences from her adventures as one of her greatest sources of inspiration. The way she describes the feeling of travelling to a new place is that of amazement and wonder which is directly translated in her pieces through her use of bold acrylic paints and deeply thoughtful strokes. Rooted strongly in the idea of layering, she highlights the importance of contrast in her pieces as a metaphor for the complexity of feelings that come with the sensations of travel and exploration.
The very nature of travel fascinates me, and I still get a childlike feeling of awe when I disembark somewhere in the world. It seems quite magical that when the plane door opens you have been transported through time to the other side of the world. The sounds, smells and colours are so very different, and it is that essential essence of how that makes me feel that I try to capture in my work.
While ceramics had historically been Hollemans’ preferred medium, several years ago she was forced to put it aside and turn to painting as an alternative due to an osteoarthritis diagnosis which has led to the gradual loss of strength in her hands. Now navigating art through the lens of a physical limitation, Hollemans has described painting as a “transformational discovery” and this debilitation as the main catalyst in her experimentation with more unique painting techniques using “tools” that most would consider out of the ordinary. Rather than palette knives, Hollemans uses old credit cards and plastic store cards as a replacement as she finds them much easier to clean and work with.
Hollemans puts a great deal of thought in choosing the particular experience she wants to share through her paintings and groups them within series concepts such as Travel & Adventure, Balance & Calm, and Seeking Simplicity. The artist sees her works as ‘Escapist’ pieces which are merely a continuation of her emotions and invite the viewer to re-interpret the scenes themselves. Her use of otherwise discarded credit cards is somewhat symbolic and also helpful in creating lines and merging the oil or acrylic paint; the final creation a vivid color story of warm, adventurous hues with the occasional mix of cold hues, reminiscent of her sights from her travels.
Aside from the unorthodox tools involved in their creation, another unique characteristic in many of her pieces is a black line. According to Hollemans, this is added to make a bold statement and convey a sense of finality which is very much representative of the bold decisions she has made throughout her career and life.
In the new gallery Helen Hollemans now streaming on Artcast, join this ‘Escapist artist’ in her journeys around the world. Here you can visually wander and interpret details from the colorful visions found within Hollemans’ abstracts, each of which mimic her own awe-inspiring travel moments in time. Enjoy a few original works from Hollemans’ various series below and tell us in the comments which destinations you think you see!
Stream the adventurous abstracts of Helen Hollemans along with the entire collection of other exciting Featured Artists found on Artcast via Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Google or Samsung. To learn more about Helen Hollemans and her ‘Escapist’ artwork, follow @hollemansart on Instagram or visit her website where you can also shop originals and gifts featuring her adventure-inspired abstracts.