RESISTING VALHALLA: ARTIST INTERVIEW / by Lizzie Glendinning

XX Curated Painting Programme 2016 Part II

By Christina Tsakiriou

Brocket London is proud to present the second exhibition in the XX Curated Painting Programme for 2016, Resisting Valhalla with works by the exceptionally talented Victoria Van Holthe. Since the opening of this new show I have been lucky enough to talk to Victoria about her hauntingly atmospheric work, her creative process and her inspiration...

 

What is involved in your artistic practice?

I am inspired by my surroundings and experiences I have. My process begins by collecting and documenting drawings, photographs and films. Experimenting with materials is where my work takes form: happy accidents of the mixed media I use leads my process. Although my subject matter is often figurative the physicality of my materials and the forms they make always takes over as the main subject matter.

 

The works in Resisting Valhalla look back to your trip across the Atlantic with your father in 2013. Could you tell me a bit more about your experience on that trip and how it inspired you?

Crossing the Atlantic with my father has been a unique and pivotal experience. It was a special opportunity to find a moment in our lives where we both had time to do this.

I was able to totally escape everyday life and become absorbed in the experience of being at sea. Life becomes simple and external distractions are minimal. Weather and daily progress become paramount. The purity of the environment defined by no more than the microcosm within the confines of Valhalla’s hull and the great expanse of ocean with its 360 degree horizon line was meditative and visually significant.

 

How does the title of the exhibition, Resisting Valhalla, relate to your work?

The title is partly inspired by Valhalla – the name of the boat we sailed across the Atlantic. The name derives from my parents’ Nordic routes – my mother is Swedish and father is Dutch. So on one level it is a literal homage to the vessel of our journey.

The concept of resistance was born from my ideological inspiration. To develop mixed media art, unconsciously abstract, reflects my efforts to resist and independently reflect upon the figurative natural beauty of my environment during the crossing.

 

 

What themes do you pursue in your work? 

The theme I am always exploring is the materiality of the medium, this is a constant throughout my work. Specifically within this body of work I am touching on themes of timelessness, submersion, repetition, infinity, vertigo and ultimately the power of nature.

 

Is there a reason for using mixed media instead of one medium? What do you think is gained by combining different media in your work?

I am fascinated by the interaction various materials have with each other. My process in combining these materials reflects the organic subject matter I often start from. I enjoy a certain lack of control and the new discoveries I then make. No work is the same and the combination and timing of how materials react to each other can not be repeated. The works I have created for this exhibition are therefore all inherently unique.

 

A lot of your work tends to be quite dark, why do you think this is?

I find colour often distracts from the space I am trying to create within each piece. I enjoy the shifting bodies of form which the monochromatic shades allow me to play with.

 

What led you to choose abstraction over figuration?

Within my work I create an atmosphere and often the transient subject matter I begin with falls into a space between abstraction and figuration. Balancing between these two places allows fluidity and movement to always be present within the work. This shifting between subject and materiality is what I am playing with, often this can become figurative or is totally abstract and about the physicality of the medium.

 

How does your typical working day go? 

I co-founded a jewellery brand (Tada & Toy) after I graduated so this takes up most of my week. I have been working in my studio in the evenings and weekends, whenever I have time. 

 

What do you see yourself working on in the future? What is your dream project?

I am by no means finished on this project, I feel I have only scratched the surface of what I could explore.  

Resisting Valhalla runs until 28.05.16