Saturday, February 27, 2010


Friday, February 26, 2010 By Craig S. Semon TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

Way beyond skin-deep
Local artist’s somewhat morbid images featured in German publication

When it comes to Renaissance-inspired painter Scott Holloway and religion, his easel is his altar, his studio is his church and his finished paintings are divine works of art.

And, on top of that, some of his most rabid disciples live in Europe. You can’t get more Renaissance than that.

“I’m beginning to think that, maybe, people around here aren’t too crazy about the kind of stuff I do,” the 40-year-old Worcester-based artist acknowledged. “But I get a lot of attention in Europe, and in L.A., too.”

Holloway, who describes himself as a realist icon painter, is prominently featured in the recently published “Art That Creeps: Gothic Fantasies and the Macabre in Contemporary Art” from the Strychnin Gallery in Berlin, Germany.

Trying to reassure this reporter sitting in a dark corner of Nick’s Bar that his unique brand of “outsider art” or “dark art” is not a desperate cry for help, Holloway relays the unorthodox way he became associated with Strychnin Gallery’s owner (and book’s publisher), Yasha Young.

“I do a lot of what I guess people would call gory stuff, so (I thought) maybe Germany would like it,” Holloway said. “So I looked up German galleries. I found her MySpace and I started posting images. And she invited me to show in New York in 2006.”

Influenced by the anatomy that lives beneath the skin, Holloway recreates the intricacies of muscle and joints that are hidden under the human surface.

Holloway wanted his portraits to be more realistic, so he started drawing the anatomy of the human face.

“I’m really influenced by anatomy, like in the medical books. I’ve always watched the medical programs on TV,” Holloway said, somehow not even coming off the slightest bit ghoulish. “Traditionally, artists would paint the skeletons and then flesh it out. So I started teaching myself.”

In 2004, Holloway, who does own a real human skull (which was bought from a licensed archaeological company, not robbed from a grave), started painting a series of skulls, often draped in white cloth to symbolize purity. This became his “Adam” series, which is part of an even bigger, all-encompassing “Holy Relic” series, which is prominently featured in the book.

“If you look at a lot of old paintings of crucifixes, you will see a little skull and a couple bones on the ground and those symbolize Adam, representing original sin, and are juxtaposed with Christ, who died for man’s sins,” Holloway explained.

From Adam, Holloway moved to St. Luke, the patron saint of artists, sculptors and surgeons, for inspiration. With religious symbolism going hand-and-hand (both figuratively and literally) with anatomical precision, the painting “St. Luke” (also in the book) features a severed hand — minus its outer layer of skin — resting on a white shroud.

A young and impressionable Holloway first became fascinated by saints (and how they were personified by a correlating body part) when he attended St. Blaise Catholic Church in Bellingham. But it wasn’t until he graduated from high school that he got his first paying gig as an artist, painting murals for a major video-store chain in Woonsocket, R.I.

“I painted the ninja seven times for all of the martial arts sections of the major video store. We copied faces off video sleeves. We painted them on canvas and we glued them like wallpaper,” Holloway recalled. “I liked the horror because we painted a hand holding a skull with a snake going through it. It was some B-movie or something, not an A-list, but it was a fun one to do.”

Holloway’s aesthetic is the Renaissance, Christian painting genre. When he studied that at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, where he earned his BFA, Holloway said that’s when he stopped paying attention to all other aspects of art history altogether.

“I just fell in love with all the symbols that they used and all the metaphors and the skill they had,” Holloway said. “If you look at the work 100 years earlier, the Byzantine work, it was all flat. It was all emotionless. Once the Renaissance started, you would look at a painting and you would feel a presence, and that’s what blew me away.”

Despite living in the 21st century, Holloway has adopted many of the same materials and techniques of the Renaissance masters. Using marble dusts mixed with rabbit-skin glue, Holloway makes his 12-inch-by-12-inch painting panels smooth as a pearl. He uses the grisaille technique, a process of painting entirely in monochrome at first and using a light glazing of colors afterward.

In addition to his “Holy Relic” series, Holloway also has his “Rural Decay” series, which features New England barns in various stages of disrepair, prints of which are very popular at The Framer’s Gallery in Auburn, where he works part time.

Holloway’s latest obsession is using hand symbols and Claddagh ring translations. His first such painting features two skinless hands holding a heart that looks as though it was just removed from someone’s chest and a crown resting over its superior vena cava and aorta, all in front of a metallic, gold leaf background. His follow-up, which is in the works, will have two hands making a heart symbol with a fingernail piercing a thumb and creating a “Bleeding Heart.” Nicole Watson, the proprietor of Nick’s, is Holloway’s latest hand model.

“If I had all the time in the world, I’d be painting full-size nudes. I always wanted to do those,” Holloway admitted. “I would be doing as much as I can.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oh the rain takes out my Dsl again. Fourth time complaining to verizon since the roofers f'ed up the lines.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Is getting ready for my press shoot tonight. My studio is a mess! Ugh

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