In her short life, Ilse D’Hollander (1968–1997) created an intelligent, sensual and highly resonant body of work that continues to find receptive new audiences in the decades since her death. This exhibition, the gallery’s first solo presentation of D’Hollander’s work since announcing its representation of the artist’s estate, focuses on the rich dialogue between abstraction and representation in her work, giving special attention to the ways in which she coaxed evocations of place, light and weather into her modestly-scaled canvases and works on cardboard.
Born in Sint Niklaas, a city between Ghent and Antwerp in the province of East Flanders, D’Hollander drew upon her impressions and experience of place throughout her career, particularly the Flemish countryside where she spent the last, highly productive years of her life. Occasionally her work recalls lowland vistas – with vast horizons that belie an intimate scale. However, D’Hollander’s paintings are seldom straightforward landscapes. Instead, drawing the viewer in, her work reveals a masterful command of graphic and painterly touch that captures, holds and, often, diverts attention. Monochrome or near monochrome fields might be interrupted by blocks of colour; geometric volumes that read as natural or manmade interventions. These in turn might be punctuated by streaks or strokes of paint – applied with a brush or sometimes the artist’s hands. The results can be read as a series of accumulated impressions, adjustments and layerings – visual records of the artist’s thought processes as much as evocations of the landscapes she knew and loved. It is this sense of crossing and re-crossing the border between outer and inner, actual and symbolic worlds, the eye and the mind, that gives D’Hollander’s work its unique presence and invites prolonged consideration. It stands as a testament to the concentrated act of painting and the, equally concentrated, act of looking.
Ilse D’Hollander committed suicide in 1997, at the age of 28. A single solo exhibition of her work was held during her lifetime. However, over the past decade her work has been the subject of a number of solo and group presentations in Europe and the United States. Victoria Miro announced its representation of the The Estate of Ilse D’Hollander in April 2018. The Estate was established in2001. Its mission is to preserve and promote D’Hollander’s work and legacy. More information can be found at the foundation’s website, ilsedhollander.org.
A new book published by Victoria Miro, featuring an essay by David Anfam, writer, critic and Senior Consulting Curator at the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, will accompany the exhibition.