Loie Hollowell - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips
  • “I want my paintings to be experiential. I want them to take the viewer into a phenomenological space of sensual pleasure. I want them to bring the viewer into the present — into their present — and into their own space‚ within their body. I want the work to be felt on a physical level. I want my work to feel freeing, liberating.”
    — Loie Hollowell


    One of the most sensational young artists working today, Loie Hollowell is recognised for her autobiographical paintings that use geometric shapes in a vibrant, electric colour palette. Approaching her work as an architect, Hollowell transforms the female body into abstraction by laying down blueprints of her personal experiences. Evoking bodily landscapes and sacred iconography, these canvases bear resemblance to planets or portals of futuristic monoliths in science fiction, as their three-dimensional elements evolve into an almost sculptural sphere of volume, texture and surface.


    A Gentle Meeting of Tips was executed in 2018, a pivotal year in Hollowell’s practice marked by two successful solo exhibitions at PACE that propelled her to international recognition. One of them was Dominant / Recessive, presented at PACE London between 28 August – 20 September 2018. It was here, at her first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, that A Gentle Meeting of Tips was unveiled, installed alongside eleven other canvases and twenty-two works on paper that abstract the most intimate and sexually explicit elements of the human anatomy into shapes that reappear frequently throughout art history.



    Installation view of the present lot (right) at London, PACE Gallery, Loie Hollowell: Dominant / Recessive, 28 August - 20 September 2018
    © Loie Hollowell. Courtesy Pace Gallery

    Sculpting the Body on the Canvas


    Famed for her canvases that abstracts the female body with voluptuous geometric forms, Hollowell’s paintings are visceral, honest, and seductive. The artist gradually builds upon the terrain of flat linen panels with high density foam to construct protruding and concaving forms that are sealed with a thin shell of acrylic before being covered by oil paint. The resulting surface is sometimes perfectly smooth like velvet or stippled with texture. These are achieved either with meticulous and delicate soft swirls of the brush, or with the rough side of a cleaning sponge. An extremely arduous process, the end result effectively blurs the distinction between real and constructed depth and the foreground and background, allowing the three-dimensional structures to be almost indiscernible to the eye. The sculpted areas enhance the painted illusory form, enticing the viewer to move closer to the painting in order to figure out which areas are real, and which are not.



    3D Detail of the present lot (profile)


    As Hollowell was drawn to abstract, elegant shapes to represent her bodily experiences on the canvas, she looked to artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Judy Chicago and Agnes Pelton for inspiration. Like Hollowell, these artists share a fascination in the use of colour and geometry, delving into the realm of pure abstraction with references to the human body, often utilising repetitive, hypnotic patterns with contrasting dark and light colours. Inheriting the same visual lexicon from her predecessors, Hollowell differs from O’Keeffe and Chicago in her use of three-dimensional elements, creating works that move past the constraints of painting and into the sphere of sculpture.



    Left: Agnes Pelton, Winter, 1933
    Collection of the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento

    Right: Judy Chicago, Through the Flower, 1973
    Collection of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York
    Artwork: © 2023 Judy Chicago / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    When the various elements of A Gentle Meeting of Tips are considered as a whole under the pretext of the Dominant / Recessive exhibition, the composition can be deemed as a powerful visual exploration of both the thought and process of conception. Shapes in the composition of the current work are proportioned in direct correlation with the size of the artist’s own body parts. This resonates all the more so when it is revealed that the artist was trying for a baby at the time of the work’s inception, with her first child being born in December 2018. As Hollowell explains of her Dominant / Recessive works:


    “This new body of work considers the act of trying to conceive as well as conception itself. By layering the concerns of painting on top of hand sculpted bodily surfaces, these shapely forms exist in a space between the illusoriness of painting and dimensionality of sculpture. The more time I spend with these paintings, the more I realise how real, physical and complex this liminal space can become. To put the thoughts I have, about trying to conceive and becoming pregnant into my painting / sculpting language is an invitation to embrace the physicality and otherworldliness of that primal sexual act.”
    — Loie Hollowell 

    Pulsating Light


    Detail of the present lot, front and profile view


    Often referring to light as the central protagonist in her work, Hollowell’s canvases often feature key geometric shapes – such as the mandora in the present work – that acts as the emphasis of the composition. In A Gentle Meeting of Tips, gentle curves of the female body from both sides of the frame draws the eye into the centre, where a bright, golden mandora is situated. Shining with a searing intensity from within, the golden light penetrates the entire dimension of the canvas, echoing the soft seafoam green glow just below, whilst enhancing the overall contrast of colour and form within.


    “I think that what’s really a driver for me is the sense of light, and this intense chiaroscuro, light to dark, forms, protruding from the surface, being actually enhanced by illusory depictions of light. There is a permanent sense of pulsating or movement that is embedded in the object, but there’s a character always present, and that’s light. I almost think of light as the character that’s driving the narrative of the work, and a lot of times there's a central light, or the mandorla, which I use as my vagina, which is the source of light that’s sort of like spilling out onto everything else.”
    — Loie Hollowell


    In 2017, a year before the current work was executed, Loie Hollowell spoke to Haley Mellin from GARAGE on the central character in her work – light.


    Haley Mellin: Let's talk about light.

    Loie Hollowell: Light has become a central character in my work. Often there will be a light source‚ a stream of light that penetrates the entire dimension of the canvas. The light moves through the action in the painting‚ or the action is coming out of the stream of light. Or the light is the action that's happening in the painting.


    HM: How do you choreograph light in your paintings?

    LH: The mandorla and the ogee‚ or breast shape‚ are often the source of light. But sometimes the light will take on a character of its own by becoming a symbolic stream of energy‚ or pee‚ or cum.


    HM: The light gives a pulse to your paintings.

    LH: Good! Those areas of chiaroscuro and high-intensity light are places of arousal. The pulsing light is like the body's energy—the pulsing of sex or the pulsing of the heart. During sexual climax it feels like there's a bright light pouring out of me‚ like I'm going to explode. That's the kind of light energy I want to create in my paintings.


    HM: Where do tantric shapes take your work?

    LH: Symbols such as the mandorla and the lingam—the phallus—allow for a more abstract‚ universal conversation about things that can be very personal. The mandorla [meaning "almond" in Italian] is the perfect symbol for the vagina. In my paintings I use the mandorla as a central focus point and as a source of light. Gothic artists often painted the Virgin Mary surrounded by a glowing mandorla. They're primal shapes—they repeatedly pop up throughout art history. Everyone can relate to them because they originate from the body.


    Click here to read the full interview.


    Collector’s Digest


    • Born 1983 in California, Loie Hollowell lives and works in New York. Known for her oeuvre that transforms the female nude into abstraction, Hollowell quickly rose to global prominence after being discovered by Marc Glimcher, president of PACE Gallery, who praised her as a ‘truly rare talent’ ii. PACE quickly held several solo exhibitions for Hollowell, including PACE London in 2018; PACE Hong Kong in 2018; PACE New York in 2019; and PACE online in 2020.

    • Last year, the artist held a solo exhibition at the Long Museum in Shanghai, titled Loie Hollowell: Recalibrate, which ran from 24 April – 11 July 2021. The artist is represented by PACE Gallery and Jessica Silverman Gallery; her first solo show with Jessica Silverman will be in 2024 in San Francisco.

    • Hollowell’s works are in the collections of Arts Council England, London (UK); He Art Museum, Shunde (CN); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (US); Long Museum, Shanghai (CN); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (US); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (CH), amongst others.



    i Loie Hollowell, quoted in Katy Hessel, ‘Loie Hollowell’, The Great Women Artists Podcast, August 2020, online

    ii Marc Glimcher, quoted in Nate Freeman, ‘How Newly Minted Art Market Star Loie Hollowell’s Prices Rose More Than 1,200 Percent in Just Three Years’, Artnet News, 15 September 2019, online

    • Provenance

      Pace Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, PACE Gallery, Loie Hollowell: Dominant / Recessive, 28 August - 20 September 2018, pp. 20, 94 (illustrated. pp. 21, 23)

    • Literature

      Holly Black, 'Loie Hollowell: Fluorescent Light & Full Bellies', Elephant, vol. 37, Winter 2018-2019, online (illustrated)
      Holly Black, 'That Summer Feeling: Eight Unmissable London Shows', Elephant, 28 July 2018, online (illustrated)
      Emily Spicer, 'Loie Hollowell: Dominant/Recessive', studio international, 11 September 2018, online (illustrated)
      'Raw Sensuality in Loie Hollowell’s Orgasmic Abstractions', Elephant, 14 September 2018, online
      'Loie Hollowell at Pace Gallery', The Week, 15 September 2018, p. 34
      Pascale Georgiev, Ananda Pellerin, Lucy Kingett and Pac Pobric, eds., Why I Make Art, Los Angeles, 2022, p. 136 (illustrated)


A Gentle Meeting of Tips

signed, titled and dated 'LoieHollowell 2018 "A gentle meeting of tips" "A gentle meeting of tips" Loie Hollowell' on the reverse
oil, acrylic, sawdust and high-density foam on linen mounted on panel
121.9 x 91.4 cm. (47 7/8 x 35 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000 

Sold for HK$6,604,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 30 March 2023