Artist of the Week

Andrew Holmquist

June 24, 2010

Andrew Holmquist currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.  He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008, receiving his BFA with an emphasis in painting and drawing.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do.  I work full time as a facilities coordinator at the school I graduated from, SAIC, which I’m happy to have because I get to boss around student workers and I keep in touch with the good people around these here parts. I have a new studio right now and I’m making some new art in it. I’m currently looking forward to an upcoming trip back home to Minnesota for a little R&R.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?  In May I was in a two person show at Slow, a gallery in Chicago, with L.A. based artist Zack Stadel. One of my pieces was a project where I made a small painting every day for as long as I could (I made it 64 days) and these were displayed as a large grid on the wall in chronological order. My other pieces in this show all related to this series, some more directly than others. This daily painting process is an ongoing project, with little breathers in between spurts of creativity.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say?  My art is about collecting fleeting moments that stand out to me, so I can share them with others and think about them a bit longer. I often articulate myself through paint, which is slippery and has a way of changing on you very quickly, though I’m open to other materials entering the playing field.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like?  Lately I have been experimenting with mixed media collage on paper as an alternative to oil paint. I still incorporate painting into the process, but with water-based paints which allows other materials like spray paint, colored pencil and tape to integrate more easily. Materials floating around in my studio have been finding their way into the images, such as colored-pencil shavings or the tissue between gold leaf, and they are expanding beyond the flat surface of the paper.

How has your work developed within the past year?  A year ago, I was making relatively large paintings that had very little planning. I would jump in and figure them out as I went along. The surfaces started becoming too suffocating in revisions and i felt like there was just too much going on to really have an impact. I took a break, which coincided with a trip to Paris, where I was really taken by the old master painters like Titian and Rembrandt I saw there. When I came back I started making smaller paintings, very slick and concise, where you could count the number of brushstrokes, that were loosely based on these paintings I had seen in the Louvre. I was interested in articulating the frills of their old-world outfits through ribbon-like brush strokes and utilizing the limited pallet these artists employed. Gradually I’ve been adding more elements back into the paintings and increasing in size, but I feel there is more clarity and articulation than there was before.


What are your thoughts about the art scene in Chicago?  The apartment galleries in town put on some amazing shows in very unconventional spaces and its exciting to see what people can do within those parameters. Chicago’s an exciting place to be for a young artist because there’s opportunity to show your work. Chicago also has a place for painters, and weird ones especially, which suits me just fine.


What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you?  There was an amazing Matisse show at the Art Institute of Chicago that chronicled his work between 1913-1917. To be able to see nearly everything he made over that 5 year period and to chart his evolution was quite an education.

I also had the pleasure of seeing a group of paintings by Allison Schulnik at Tony Wight Gallery recenty. I’ve gotten to know her work through the internet and this was the first time I had seen her paintings in person, which was quite a shock. The 3-Dness of her paintings and the way she uses it to both re-enforce the space of the image and totally obliterate it was mesmerizing.

What artists are you interested in right now?  I’ve seen several large paintings by Judy Ledgerwood recently in person (at Western Exhibitions, Art Chicago and the Art Institute) and each one bowls me over. My friend Eli just turned me on to Lesley Vance, which I’m pretty excited about. Tomma Abst, Allison Schulnik, Albert Oehlen collages, Arturo Herrera collages too, Amy Sillman and Dana Schutz. Phillip Glass music is on repeat in my head right now. I’ve been looking at Pieter Breugel paintings too and I’m currently reading Joseph Albers’ Interactions of Color book which is chock full of insight.

Any current or upcoming shows we should know about?  I’m excited to be a part of a few group shows taking place outside of Chicago over the next year. In August I’m in a show called Tough Guy at Subbasement Gallery in Baltimore. In October I will be in a three-person show with Mike Andrews and Easton Miller at Jolie Laide Gallery in Philadelphia, and next April I will be a part of a group show at Tugboat Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska.

*Portrait of Andrew Holmquist taken by Margaret E. Vincent.