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Joan Holleb


The paintings of Chicago artist Joan Holleb occupy an unusual place between painting and sculpture, between process and image, between poetry and narrative. The three - dimensional qualities of these works set them apart from most paintings, generating the unexpected effect of slowing down our gaze and causing us to look carefully at the small events on the surface of the work.

Holleb begins a painting by selecting a pristine sheet of copper. She then bends, folds, crimps, and hammers the copper until the dimensional, tactile qualities of the surface become compelling to her. (She has been rumored to occasionally run over copper sheets with her Jeep to get the desired effect). Holleb begins the act of painting by using a patina solution, pouring it on the bent, distressed surface of the copper and letting it run in various directions. In some cases, the patina will end up being covered, but more often, it dictates the direction the composition will develop, and this use of chance and spontaneous activity becomes the foundation for all that follows.

While images from nature often appear in Holleb's work, the imagery can just as easily be derived from art history as from her own observation. Quotations from favorite Old Master works can be found buried in many of the paintings, sometimes hidden behind layers of imagery and paint, always woven into the visual fabric of the painting, setting and sharing the stage with observed nature.

The resulting paintings are compelling and ambitious meditations on time, history, beauty, and our relationship to the natural world. The paintings read almost as artifacts of a fictional history that we don't remember but still believe in.


Bruegal Tapestry, oil and patina on copper, framed, 41x53


Landscape Detail 1, oil and patina on copper, framed, 18x54


Landscape Detail 2, oil and patina on copper, framed, 18x54


Landscape Detail 3, oil and patina on copper, framed, 18x54


Genesis I, oil and patina on copper, framed, 53x41


Genesis III, oil and patina on copper, framed, 41x53


Harvesters and European Blue Tits, oil and patina on copper, framed, 41x53


Master's Flowers and Fruits, oil and patina on copper, framed, 53x41


Paolo's Forest Floor - Ripple, oil and patina on copper, framed, 24x32


Brazilian Hummingbirds, oil and patina on copper, framed, 28x23


European Robins, and Hunters Coming Home, oil and patina on copper, framed, 43x51


Still Life, after Schreik, oil and patina on copper, framed, 27x40


Caravaggio Redux, oil and patina on copper, framed, 41x53


Starling Noise, oil and patina on copper, framed, 41x54


Still Life, oil and patina on copper, framed, 20x17


Still Lives, oil and patina on copper, framed, 23x17





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