Raw Sensuality in Loie Hollowell’s Orgasmic Abstractions

Intense sexual energy, three-dimensional curves and a hyper-chromatic palette make the Californian artist’s paintings joyfully compelling, as her new show at Pace in London demonstrates.


Loie Hollowell’s intense, abstract paintings might light up your Instagram feed (she currently has more than 10,000 followers), but there’s nothing like seeing them in person. The Californian, New York-based artist uses high-density carving foam to create sweeping three-dimensional curves on the canvas, making each painting an exercise in surreal warped perception that compels you to seek out the image from every conceivable angle.

Hollowell’s deft creation of perfectly concise gradients and luminescent blades of light could easily be mistaken for digitally-rendered production but they are in fact achieved by hand, using carefully articulated textures and ample use of a sponge. The shapes she creates can easily be aligned with abstraction, but they are deeply rooted within Hollowell’s personal experience with her own body, and the allusions to vaginas, breasts and penises are instantaneous. She also aligns her obsession with depicting intense fields of light with orgasming—that raw, powerful force that ripples through the body.

In her new show at Pace in London there are clearly more directly figurative elements too, from the “drooping skin” of a pair of testicles to the full and pronounced curves of the pubis, which have become something of a focus since Hollowell is pregnant, and has become hyperaware of the new “heaviness and fullness” she feels within her own body.

All images © Loie Hollowell, courtesy Pace Gallery


Loie Hollowell: Dominant/Recessive

Until 20 September at Pace, London

Loie Hollowell, A Gentle Meeting of Tips, 2018, © Loie Hollowell, Courtesy Pace Gallery