Lisa Holden (1961) is a British-born artist based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her earlier visual work explores notions of the self as a series of estranged identities-guises adopted and appropriated, and dependent upon context. Holden has been integrating performance art, painting and drawing, photography and video, and digital manipulation of these combinations of forms in a manner that is clearly advancing the parameters of art photography and creating a new art methodology/language in the process.
She combines digital imagery with hand-painted layers to create ‘parallel realities’, referring to the exploration of displacement, adoption and the reinvention of identity as a necessity for survival. Holden’s large-scale, ‘digitally flawed’ painting-photographs interpret and react to our super-fast-paced, technologically driven society. The result is the artist’s depiction of a psychological spiral into more personal fracturing of identity, multiple transformations, and a more isolated self and society. New works clearly bear the stamp of Holden’s interest in Victorian painting and literature, which often illustrated richly colored fantasies and hallucinations.
A work is created first on the basis of footage shot by the artist (using either a digital still camera or a digital video camera) and is often based on and documents a separate performance art event. The artist frequently takes her own image as the basis of the image. Integrating the digital artefacts randomly generated by the repeated layering process noted below into the final composition, her portrait becomes obscured, iterating the artist’s ongoing interest in notions of identity, alternate personas and constructed reality.
In the process of making the composition, the artist prints out the image on photographic paper and draws and paints on it, then scans the hand-manipulated image back into the computer. Parts of this hand-painted image are then integrated into the composition on the computer. This process of combining the hand-painted and the digitally-painted sections is repeated–often multiple times. There are often as many as 30-40 digital layers. Then, when the artist feels the image is more or less finished, she has it printed up at full scale, which is often several meters in size.
In her latest series, Holden explores the myth of Lilith. To some, mythological Lilith is the beautiful bearer of disease and death. To others she is Lamia, seductress, stealer of children. She is also Adam’s first wife. In today’s turbulent times, the myth of Lilith seems an apt starting point. Taking myths surrounding feminine icons like Lilith, Lamia and Danae as her inspiration, Holden’s latest body of work explores aspects of duality: beauty and destruction, the flesh and the spirit, order and chaos. This juxtaposition of opposites is echoed in her multi-layered compositions, which sample imagery from early studio photography, classical painting and consumer culture. The final pieces blend analogue and digital imaging, photography and painting where Holden exploits her media and materials to full potential.
Holden’s work is represented in a number of museum and corporate collections, including the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Sammlung Land Tirol (Austria); GasUnie (NL); the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; AKZO NOBEL (NL); ABN; AMRO; and Interpolis.
A selection of Holden’s work was also chosen for use on the cover of the Dutch translations of the novels of 2004 Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek.