Cindy J. Holmes
Two, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches
Curatorial Statement: John Marcucci, Ph.D.
In each painting there is a central form, discernible as a human figure by references to the shape of head, torso, arm, hand or leg. They are all portraits of humans. Some of them have an eye, a mouth, or a nose, but otherwise those anthropomorphic references to a face are sometimes hidden by position or color. Some of these faces boldly peer out at the viewer.
Are they portraits of men or women? Clothing covers up any signs of sexual dimorphism. Male or female anatomical attributes are not evident. Gender identity of these portraits relies on the viewer’s perception of color and composition and mark making.
Cindy J. Holmes expresses bold lines in her compositions. What does bold mean? Is bold a masculine modifier with a positive connotation which adds to the value of masculinity?
Does bold as feminine modifiers bring forth negative connotations that diminish the value of femininity? The paintings present an opportunity to analyze concepts of gender and self.
There portraits are not in repose. The context of the backgrounds and foregrounds are shifting spaces of color and line. There is a tension between figure and space where they compete in being either immersed or embedded, or exerting their identity.
The color palette functions as a binary structure of hot/cold and contrasts with receding neutral spaces that interact within the composition of the figure and the background. This type of color composition opens the analysis of the figure in the context of its existence. How much is the figure a part of this context and how much of it is a struggle to exert its identity beyond the context of which it is also a part?
In this sense, the color dynamic in these paintings refer us back to classical portraiture of hot, cold, and neutral compositions that brought the human form into mythical dimensions and reflected historical social values of beauty and power.
As a reaction to modern expressionism, artists introduced the figure in this context of abstraction. These artists sought freedom of expression beyond classical representation of the human figure, much in the same way Fauvists did by the leading example of Matisse’s work, exemplified by his Woman In A Hat (San Francisco Museum of Art).
One of the regional developments of figurative art developed in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1950s. Cindy J. Holmes gives reference to these traditions as her inspiration. However, her approach is not a reintroduction of the figure into abstract expressionism. For her the figure is the central focus and it is from the figure itself that she begins her process of breaking down, tearing apart, and reconfiguring different aspects of the figure. In this sense, she is distorting the human image as a way of developing a new understanding of human identity.