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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM AN ESTEEMED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Lick Lick (Boob Skwirt)

Lick Lick (Boob Skwirt)
signed, titled twice and dated twice '"Lick Lick (Boob Skwirt)" June 2017 Loie Hollowell' (on the reverse)
oil, acrylic, sawdust and high-density foam on linen mounted on panel
28 1/8 x 21 1/8in. (71.3 x 53.5cm.)
Executed in 2017
Rental Gallery, East Hampton.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
East Hampton, Rental Gallery, Color People, 2017.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Executed in 2017, Lick Lick (Boob Sqwirt) is a luminous, playful example of Loie Hollowell’s sensual abstract practice. With its two symmetrical halves mirrored in the manner of a Rorschach test, the work combines fluid geometries and tactile material textures to create an image laced with surreal innuendo. The work belongs to Hollowell’s Lick Lick series, defined by abstract silhouettes of the human profile with a protruding tongue. Though frequently resembling botanical forms or ornamental motifs, Hollowell’s anatomical allusions are deliberate: breasts, mouths and sexual organs emerge from her compositions, tangled in undulating, rhythmic patterns. At the same time, her paintings are studies in light, colour and texture, mingling foam, sawdust and rich, jewel-like palettes to create seductive, near-sculptural surfaces. Shortly after its creation, the present work was selected by Rashid Johnson for his curatorial project Color People at Rental Gallery, East Hampton. Hollowell has since achieved widespread acclaim, notably making her solo institutional debut at the Long Museum, Shanghai, last year.

Hollowell was deeply inspired by the light of West Coast America, where she grew up: ‘like what O’Keeffe experienced in New Mexico and translated into her paintings’, she explains (L. Hollowell, quoted in H. Black, ‘Loie Hollowell: Fluorescent Light & Full Bellies’, Elephant, 21 June 2019). The latter—a painter to whom Hollowell is frequently compared—takes her place beside Judy Chicago and Salvador Dalí as one of her key influences: Op Art, Colour Field painting, the Californian ‘Light and Space’ movement and Neo-Tantric art have also left their mark on her visual language. Her fascination with light equally owes much to her engagement with religious iconography, notably the radiant mandorla­-shaped halos that frequently surrounded depictions of the Virgin Mary. The present work’s near-blinding seams of luminous colour, glowing like portals to the beyond, may be understood within this context. Tellingly, Hollowell’s exploration of female sexuality is also closely tied to themes of pregnancy and fertility, which—particularly since the arrival of her first child in 2018—has seen her draw increasingly upon ideas surrounding birth, breastfeeding and motherhood.

Much like the present work’s subject matter, Hollowell’s paintings are best understood in profile. They are, fundamentally, reliefs, created by mounting pieces of high-density foam onto canvas which are then sealed with acrylic medium and painted with a mixture of oil and sawdust. The artist starts by mapping out her compositions through drawings: ‘I do a bunch of really quick sketches and doodles in my little nighttime journal’, she explains. ‘That will develop into a drawing that I will make on Bristol paper and if I really like it I will grid it out and grid that out onto the canvas’ (L. Hollowell, quoted in R. Kaiser-Schatzlein, ‘Interview: Loie Hollowell in Sunnyside’, Two Coats of Paint, 23 September 2015). The works themselves take weeks or even months to complete, carefully wrought through meticulous application of pigment—Hollowell uses fan brushes, sponges and palette knives to achieve the smooth, fine-tuned chromatic gradients seen in the present work. Though little betrays the trace of the artist’s hand, the result is nonetheless alive with her touch, every inch of it scrutinised to sublime perfection.

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