Holly Froy is a UK based printmaker and painter whose beautiful works have a deceptive simplicity. Delineated line and soft expression of mark making reveals masterful grasp of colour, space, figural gesture, and form. Bright pigment and an effortless brushstroke, rough and flat, curled and dotted reveal delightfully strange places, rooms and protagonists.
Like the harmonious and striking graphic pictures of modernist greats like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Froy’s use of hue and form creates masterful pictures of spaces, figures, creatures and mythic places in nature.
Froy keeps a sketchbook full of quick ideas, memories of places, dreams, conversations and feelings. While the paintings refer to these moments, the final imagery emerges as a part of a process of intuitive making: “Some paintings happen very quickly and are finished completely, and I think I can tell when they are finished as often, they had no starting place and just come from a sort of subconscious place. Whereas, others begin and then change multiple times and I’m never sure if they are really finished. However, I like to keep this open state, never fully answering the questions opened up in the painting but leaving them questioning with space for the ideas to breathe…”
Froy uses a wide variety of materials, from oil paints to ink and gouache, and printmaking, sharing that when she utilises oil paint, she likes to thin out the medium substantially to create an aqueous effect. The artist notes that the way in which colour interacts within her images is key. And she points out that such interactions often “convey the mood of the painting.” As well, Froy points out that her work in printmaking and painting are symbiotic, informing the development of one another.
In all of the artist’s images we see the presence of creatures and figures against areas of intricate details often contrasted against areas of negative space, planes of colour or even simple lines. The way the brush stroke crosses the paper or canvas seems as if a place in a dream, a graceful yet unrefined way of making form, a sort of quiet genius that charms and intrigues. Froy notes that animals and figures as well landscape are a key thematics. “I am ultimately interested in the human condition and how we experience our interaction with the place around us. “I grew up in Dorset and spent a lot of time outdoors and so for me, the land and animals took on quite emotive qualities. However, in London, I see that even buildings may take on emotional qualities as can a sea of people.” The capturing of these moments of the surreal or mystical connect Froy’s approach to the ideas of automatism within Surrealism, as well as her interest in the traditions of Mexican art, which she discovered while an artist in residence in Mexico. Here she found the cross pollination of lay traditions, religion and modernist and traditional imagery transformative. Froy’s evocative pictures are resplendently patterned and colourful and expressive and link contemporary experience to the history of modern art.
Rosa JH Berland