Ġulja Holland (b.1990), is a Maltese painter based in London. She received her BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Leeds Arts University in 2015 and completed her Foundation in Art and Design at Loughborough University in 2009. Ġulja is a 2021 recipient of the Maltese Tertiary Education Scholarship Scheme. She was recently shortlisted as an artist on the Sky Arts Portrait of the Year S7 2020 and is currently exhibiting in a group show with London Paint Club curated by Kelly Foster.
While I would describe myself as essentially optimistic, my practice lends me a safe space to explore the darker aspects of the human condition on a personal scale as well as on a global scale. Self-identity, environmental destruction and existentialism are recurring themes in my work.
My latest works mainly pay homage to Hieronymous Bosch and Francis Bacon. From them, I borrow apocalyptic narrative, religious symbolism, surrealism as well as a reversal of scale of animals and humans to convey the ever-increasing instability of hierarchical order brought about by the arrival of the Anthropocene Epoch.
I tend to abstract the human form and its surroundings in an attempt to move the image beyond language and toward metaphor, leaving room for interpretation. I begin with a digital collage which I sketchily render in charcoal on raw canvas. My work inhabits the borders of drawing and painting and I deliberately leave areas of my painting unresolved with just the drawing showing through as I feel it lends a freshness to my work and enlivens negative space.
My painting technique also borrows influence from Helen Frankenthaler and her method of pouring thinned washes of paint directly onto an unprimed canvas laid on the studio floor. The translucent layers of paint lend my subjects an otherworldly quality and allow me to aptly convey the interiority of both my subjects bodies and of their states of mind.