One of the most popular sayings about gardens is a quote by Janet Kilburn Phillips: “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” The same is true for art, inspiring painters like Luba Holland in their visual experiments and subject studies.
The idea of a garden is multifaceted and seems to resonate with the profound urges of the contemporary world. It is no coincidence it became the subject for several recent art festivals, like Manifesta 12’s 2018 concept The Planetary Garden: Cultivating Coexistence and the Riga International Biennale of Contemporary Art’s 2020 edition and suddenly it all blossoms. Looking at the whole world as a complex intertwining of different systems that depend on each other, artists and critics are drawn to the fragile and powerful essence of gardens.
Born in Russia, with its old folklore traditions rooted in the poetization of natural phenomena, Luba also seeks to depict the interaction between micro and macro levels of life. “The worlds of plants and humans are inseparable,” Luba says. “We are one, we grow each other, within each other. Garden is not just the place outside we come to rest, enjoy, and contemplate nature, but the place within our minds and souls, which we create for our spiritual recumbence, or for peaceful and invigorating retreat, for meditation or as a place to hide from the outside world.”
Luba sees her acrylic canvases as visual allegories of different states of the human soul, represented through images that often refer to female fairy figures from Slavic mythology. She attempts to capture the sense of enigma through the combination of realistic elements, linearity, and abstract background, shaped with fluid watercolour effects. Believing in the therapeutic, harmonizing power of art, she chooses a vibrant, intensive palette which, together with the transparent, simple (even somewhat naïve) manner of painting, is reminiscent of the art of batik and its masters, like Sarkasi Said. Similar to batik, Luba’s works have a decorative quality, leaving an impression of contemplating the surrounding world with one’s eyes wide open.
Luba Holland is a Russian-born artist who currently resides in Germany. She studied at the College of Art in her hometown Kazan, later entering the local Architectural Academy, where she majored in Interior Design from 1994-2000. When the move to a foreign country unwillingly put her design career on hold, she focused on her painting and drawing practice. Since 2006 she has lived in Munich, working as an artist and freelance art and drawing teacher. Her works have been internationally exhibited in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, India, South Korea, Iran, and the United States, and are included in collections in Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Australia.
In my art I try to depict things that exist beyond physical tangible substances. What becomes important is the inner world of a person. In my imagination I travel around the world of untamed emotions, whether calm or hysterical, but sincere, trying to give them physical expression through shapes and colours. Like donors’ blood, my artwork “infuses”; the viewer with emotions, reminding them of the human ability to feel. As a donor of emotion, I am being revitalized myself through this process again and again with each artwork. Cultivating beauty and creativity is part of my essence.
About My Work
In my art I engage in investigation and interpretation of deep spiritual values, such as love, wisdom, virtue, justice, freedom, as well as the inner cosmos of a person, unity with primal roots and nature, and the fragility of its existence.
In my recent works I have steered toward creating VISUAL ALLEGORIES, painting-stories with multiple meanings. By evoking the question “What if?” art has the power to shift paradigms. Through imagination and hyperbole, paintings turn reality into fantasy, our contemporaries are reincarnated as heroines of folk tales, and often back again. What if…I was a Sirin? What if…the Blue Bird was captured and domesticated? What if… we swapped places with plants?
I grew up close to nature. Myths, legends, folklore of different peoples spellbound me. Flora is a roman goddess of flowers, spring, vegetation, and fertility, a symbol for nature and plants. Alkonost, Gamayun, and Sirin are the most beloved and respected mythical creatures in Russian folklore. They appear as birds with the head and a chest of a beautiful maiden, living in the gardens near paradise. They represent our deepest human emotions: joy, sadness, wisdom, love, lust, luck… My latest works investigate the “inner garden” of a person, the imaginary world, the parallel reality. The worlds of plants and humans are inseparable, we are one, we grow each other, within each other. Garden is not just the place outside we come to rest, enjoy, and contemplate nature, but the place within our minds and souls, which we create for our spiritual recumbence, or for the peaceful and invigorating retreat, for meditation or as a place to hide from the outside world. Is your garden full of sunlight, flowers, bees, and birds or is it shady, mossy, and quiet? it is totally up to you. According to the rules of imagination, your garden can change to whatever you want or need it to be at a given moment.
We all carry an ancient wisdom within us, which we can turn to any time we are looking for answers, we just must find that secret garden in our souls or create it from scratch, wherever that wisdom shell resides. I believe in the healing qualities of art. I hope my art brings solace, joy, and inspiration to the viewer.
I find great pleasure and joy in working with acrylic paints and inks. They allow me to use the combination of fine elaborated patterns and realistic images with bold abstract techniques, such as liquid painting, and watercolor effects. Vibrant “happy” colors, awakening the visual senses of a viewer, are essential.
There are many creative geniuses whom I admire and who have affected the way I have developed as an artist. I still turn to their works for inspiration and to create the MOOD in which I work most productively. Among them are not only artists, but great composes and writers: Francis Picabia, Victor Vasarely, M.C.Escher, F.Hundertwasser, Lewis Carroll, Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Bach, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky to name a few.
Luba Holland is the Bronze Artist of the ArtAscent Gardens call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Gardens issue.