Style Profile: Holly Yoshida

Above: Holly wears tailored longline jacket by Song for the Mute. Oversized cuff shirt and pinstripe trosuers by Ann Demeulemeester. Boots by Rick Owens.

At Moore Contemporary in Cathedral Square, a fresh offering of works from emerging painter Holly Yoshida has quietly but confidently availed itself of the coolly distilled space.

Visiting the exhibition, Dilettante took the opportunity to speak with Holly about the work and her perspectives on painting.

Above right: Holly wears Rick Owens' tailored blazer over Christian Wijnants' rust dress. Rick Owens boots.

Dilettante: Your new show, Offerings, opened at Moore Contemporary last week.
What's the connection between your light-filled interior series and the food subjects surrounded by darkness?

Holly: Both are still life paintings of the everyday. My practice is primarily interiors, however during the lockdowns I had lots of time to paint, but sitting alone in an empty room, painting empty rooms started to reverberate and amplify the anxiety that I’m sure we all experienced.

With galleries being closed, I didn't see myself showing my paintings anytime soon, so I started painting work that I wanted to look at and live with. I didn't have the pressure of painting for a show which allowed more freedom to explore new painting techniques, try out new mediums and gels, and work with a palette that I wouldn't typically.

Above left: Holly wears grey cotton and silk dress by Ichi Antiquities with Song for the Mute's textural kimono bomber jacket. Grey beaded necklace by Jean-François Mimilla and boots by Rick Owens.

Can you tell me what drew you to paint residential interiors?

When I was young I would visit my Dad every other weekend in his apartment in Surfer's Paradise. My sisters and I would wake up early and enjoy watching people in the surrounding high rise apartments. We would laugh and point at them and they would wave back at us. Their lives were so interesting to me - grown ups!

Years later, I moved into an apartment of my own that faced a budget hotel in Northbridge, and I would watch the guests in their matchbook rooms, but I didn't feel happy anymore. I felt their sadness, and we would hide from each other in the windows, and I realised that I've been projecting myself onto these strangers the whole time.

That was really interesting to me, and I wanted to see if I could communicate that through paint.

I think of my interiors as psychological landscapes, in that they become a kind of portal for the viewer to project themselves into. Kind of like people watching, where you make up stories about people, my interiors invite curiosity and comfort. I wanted to show that in certain spaces, despite its inanimate nature, we do feel a psychological, almost spiritual connection and in many cases we gain comfort and reassurance from being in them.

Are the interiors spaces that you know well?

I source my reference images mostly from a Facebook group called The Rent Network, a page for people in share houses to find new roommates. In this way I'm painting what is familiar to me. Occasionally I will visit a friend's place and start taking reference photos for paintings, but the goal is for it to be mundane for Australian viewers.

Above left: Holly wears the Komorebi pleated dress from Pleats Please Issey Miyake. Beaded necklace by Jean-François Mimilla, and platform sandals by Rick Owens.

How has your work evolved since graduating from Edith Cowan University?

I started painting interiors at ECU in 2013. I was mostly focused on bedroom ceilings, at the time I was working through a break up, ideas around social media and loneliness; it was really cringey work!

While the work resonated with a lot of people, I didn't want to continue to make work that was autobiographical, as it was hard to hear feedback or to critique myself objectively. From there I made work that the audience could bring themselves to. My work continues to evolve the more I learn about paint, which is an ongoing process.

Above right: Holly wears Rick Owens' draped long-sleeve dress in rich navy blue.

What is your approach to painting? And what motivates you to continue to paint?

I feel like the creative process has been fetishised so much. For me, when I sit down to paint, it's work, that's me clocking in for the day. Some days I really don't want to do it and other days it's a joy, just like all jobs.

I once told an Uber driver that if i didn't paint I would be a mass murderer - while I was being facetious, that's what painting is for me, it's what I want to be doing and it's what I care about. I do it because I have to.

Inset above: Holly wears Comme des Garçons embellished cardigan and pleated skirt trousers. Rick Owens boots.

Do you think fashion can be art?

I try not to think too hard on what is and is not art, or else I'll have a full blown existential crisis. But I think any act can be executed with creativity and a devotion that is commonly associated with making works of art.

What inspires your personal style of dressing?

I grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, which had some great fashion moments that imprinted onto my psyche. My personal style almost exclusively ranges from vampy/witchy villain to tormented school girl.

I really like the idea of uniforms. When I was made to wear them at school and in jobs, I hated them. But the consistency is something that takes anxiety out of getting dressed, now that I've got the formula down. I tend to stick to similar shapes, silhouettes and tones that compliment my body shape, and mix and match basics accordingly.

Above left: Holly wears tailored longline blazer by Song for the Mute. Oversize cuff shirt and pinstripe trousers by Ann Demeulmeester. Boots by Rick Owens.

Do you have any thoughts about your next collection of work?

My work is always in dialogue with or reacting to my previous work - it's like an ongoing narrative. When I was producing the work currently on show at Moore Contemporary I was exploring the colour black, depth of shadows and glazing. Next I'd like to work with pales and whites, absence of colour and shadows. I have some ideas incubating and I'm eager to get back into the studio.


Holly Yoshida's show "Offerings" will launch at Moore Contemporary from 5:30, this Friday 14th May.

Exhibition continues until Saturday, 5th June 2021.

Art photography by Ian Williams.

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