Dimensions: 210 x 210
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We welcome one of our own to the Print Room this autumn with Rebecca Holmes’s debut solo show with Eames Fine Art. Regulars at our galleries and Collectors’ Studio will already be well acquainted with Rebecca as an articulate, passionate and persuasive advocate for the work of other artists, so there is an understandable sense of anticipation for this show. We are all excited to see what Rebecca has in store for us.
Kingdoms brings together a rich array of works distilled from over four years of focussed creative exploration. Drawing, photopolymer etching, linocut, silkscreen and monotype are all represented and reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of Rebecca’s Fine Art training at Loughborough University. This gives the first hint as to what we can expect in the show – a bringing together of different strands of making that provides and then sustains a creative impulse. Rebecca is a process driven artist who, in common with many of the printmakers we admire at Eames Fine Art, allows an image to evolve in the making rather than starting with a firmly pre-conceived idea of the end result. This is an exciting way to work but it can be a high-wire act and requires confidence and technical skill. There is plenty of this on display here and Kingdoms is a remarkably assured debut offering from an artist who clearly knows her way around a print studio and is able to produce compelling results from a myriad of demanding technical processes. This provides a solid foundation for experimentation and the scope to construct images from a variety of techniques. Rebecca’s work often requires a sophisticated compilation of variations that are then edited back to achieve the final result. Occasionally, Rebecca will submit trial proofs to ‘peer review’ on Instagram to gauge reaction. This should not be mistaken for a lack of artistic confidence, but rather a genuine desire to share the excitement of the creative process and forge a connection with her audience. It is a generous approach that has already nurtured a considerable following for her work over a few short years.
Landscape is the dominant theme in Rebecca’s work. This is a vivid response shaped by childhood trips to Cornwall and the excitement of encountering a landscape that contrasts dramatically with the fenland around her native Peterborough. These crucial formative experiences invest Rebecca’s landscape with a sense of adventure, of excitement. These works are not about topography, rather they are settings for experience and arenas for the imagination. Rebecca references the words of poet and critic Rebecca Tamás to describe these landscapes as: ‘Dynamic spaces where elements interplay, connect, dissipate and reconfigure’ and this quote crystallises what
Rebecca is striving for in her work. Rebecca also cites Cuban feminist artist Ana Mendieta as a key influence. Mendieta’s earth/body sculptures expressed a deep spiritual, emotional and physical connection with the landscape and place Rebecca’s work in a powerful context. This context is further enriched by influences such as Barbara Hepworth, Kazimir Malevich, Lyubov Popova, Alexander Rodchenko, Lygia Pape, Max Ernst, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and the science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin. Rebecca is clearly an artist who can synthesise a wide range of artistic precedent; she has looked and looked hard and has a deep well of art historical reference to draw from. It gives her work a robust intellectual framework.
The presence of Hepworth, Pape and the Russian Constructivists in this list of references perhaps explains another recurring theme in Rebecca’s work – that of geometric abstraction. Circles, squares, grids and diagonals provide an exciting counterpoint in many of the landscapes on display. The presence of these geometric abstractions subverts the idea of representational landscape by ‘breaking the veil of reality’ as Rebecca puts it. They are a potent compositional device and push these landscapes into an epic, fantastical realm more akin to cinematic science fiction than representation. Rebecca has described her work as an attempt to reconcile the polar opposites of abstraction and realism, however, to my mind at least, it is the competing tension of these two fundamentals; the fact that Rebecca allows them to play out and remain unresolved, that gives these works their excitement, their urgent creative charge.
Rebecca wants to take us beyond reality, to imagine the creative potential of landscape afresh and to witness new worlds in the making. Kingdoms abounds with these liminal, skilfully rendered portals into new possibilities. It is an exhilarating place to be and announces a bold and enthralling new talent to Eames Fine Art. So, welcome Rebecca Holmes and congratulations. We are sure that this show will be the first of many.
Vincent Eames, November 2021