Writing Art History Since 2002

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Nina Holmes is a Cape Town-based artist and has been featured in many group shows in and around Cape Town. Some of the shows where she has presented her artwork are ‘She is the Masterpiece’ at Nova Constantia (2010), ‘Interesting Places’ at Casa Boho in Kalk Bay (2013) and ‘Breathe’ at Eclectica Contemporary gallery (2019). She has also had a solo exhibition titled ‘Un/Safe’ at the Eclectica Contemporary gallery (2018). Taking art courses under Paul Birchall (2013) and Emily Ball (2015-2018), Nina Holmes then went on to receiving a distinction in a postgraduate diploma at the University of Cape Town in 2017.

Nina Holmes, Homage, 2019. Mixed media on canvas, 52 x 72cm. Image courtesy of the artist.Nina Holmes, Homage, 2019. Mixed media on canvas, 52 x 72cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Nina Holmes latest solo exhibition ‘it is not what i see’ is a product of an intense three-day study in the forests surrounding Karatara, a half-hour drive outside of Knysna, observing the traditional land and sky-scapes of the area. It was during this intensive study that she experienced the ‘concurrent dualities of nature’, from the ‘apparent lazy serenity of blissful farm life’ compared to the ‘harsh sun beating down, the unexpected gusts of wind, the swarming mosquitos, the stinging rain and difficulty of lugging equipment through unwelcoming terrain’. On returning to Cape Town she drew on her experience of being there and what she felt together with what she saw, thus her art became a representation of both the visual and the emotional:

Karatara: Ambient Composition, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 82.5 x 117.5cm.Karatara: Ambient Composition, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 82.5 x 117.5cm.

“I wished to make visual that which I had heard, mark the tactile quality of the soil, the sharpness of branches, the irritation of ants. I wanted to colour the smells, retaste the dank mould of the earth and feel the delicacy and confusion of crossing twigs.”

Muted, 2019. Acrylic on paper, 47 x 35cm.Muted, 2019. Acrylic on paper, 47 x 35cm.

Working on large canvases with acrylic allowed Holmes to recapture vast landscapes and elements of the location. Inspired by Fabienne Verdier she taped a large canvas to the floor and painted it from an aerial perspective. In her own words, she describes the intentions behind the title of her show: “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 a preconceived outcome. I have tried to become comfortable with not knowing.”

Nina Holmes’ exhibition, ‘it is not what i see’ is now on show at Eclectica Contemporary, 69 Burg Street, Cape Town, till 30 September

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