The Virtues of Vice
Anna Kustera is pleased to present the second solo exhibition by LA based artist Loren Holland. In these recent works, Holland uses oil paint on paper to depict highly enigmatic female figures, exploiting the media’s hyper-sexualized, self-assured images of femininity. By distorting the usual connotations of these images, her brightly colored works examine themes of depravity and excess, and how vices and hedonistic mistakes can, in fact, contribute to new knowledge and understanding.
Holland’s wry, carefully coordinated conflict of incongruent emblems from modern culture, the arts and the occult mixes disparate elements including guns, baby bottles, handcuffs, discarded fried chicken and Tarot cards. The resulting scene is a bold, thought-provoking and unnerving world suffused with symbolism and allegorical significance.
The juxtaposition of these elements forces their re-contextualization, amplifying the contradictory assumptions surrounding Latino and African-American women and challenging perceptions of class, race and minority groups. The fertility and lushness of the jungle setting of ‘The Unseen Presence’ is dissonantly at odds with the debris strewn around it, yet the female protagonist remains defiant amidst the detritus. Using a fishing net, she sifts through the waste to create a better life for herself and actively amend her environment.
This subversion of stereotypes is echoed in the title of Holland’s show, “The Virtues of Vice”. Though her women are frequently exhibitionistic in their power and allure, behind this facade lies a vulnerability which intimates that the vice is not of their own doing, but a wider cultural symptom beyond their control. In ‘Unreal City’ for instance, a voluptuous, peroxide-haired, mermaid-like figure postures in a skimpy white bikini. However, the woman is forced to create her own oasis of beauty amidst a sea of wreckage, undermining her aspirations for glamour and autonomy. Taking its title from T.S. Eliot’s poem ‘The Waste Land’, the backdrop of a faded city panorama compounds the figure’s obliviousness to her polluted environment. This constructs a subtle critique of excess, and equally demonstrates that the idealized, exoticized stereotypes associated with the black female body are as garbage-like as the figure’s surroundings.
Loren Holland completed her MFA from Yale University in 2005 after graduating from Brown University in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Neuroscience. Her work has been shown in a solo project called Black Magic Woman, her first one-person museum exhibition, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (2007), and most recently in LA Paint at the Oakland Museum of California (2008). Holland lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.