The Chelsea art dealer Sean Kelly has staged the first comprehensive exhibition in the US devoted to the Belgian artist, Ilse D'Hollander. Eponymously named, the exhibition showcases 60 paintings and works on paper all created during a ten-year period prior to her untimely death.
'Even though Ilse’s oeuvre is compelling yet subtle, she had but one solo show in her entire life,' says Janine Cirincione, Sean Kelly's director and the show's curator. 'It’s exceedingly rare that you come across an artist whose entire body of work is so mature at a remarkably young age,' she adds.
D’Hollander’s spare compositions are based on blurred blocks and bands of color (which she then lays down as thin layers of oil paint in a palette ranging from taupe and slate blue to pale yellow that give a sense of luminosity and geometry), akin to the work of Nicolas de Staël and early Mondrian. A number of her works reference the Flemish landscape, while others are totally abstract.
'There's a sense of stepping into a picture plane that is intimate and filled with light,' says Cirincione. The painter’s 1996 Oostende, comprises vertical bands of forest green and black, flanking an evanescent body of pale jade.
Just as D’Hollander’s oil paintings are extraordinary, so too are her works on paper. 'She turned to a rather unconventional methodology. Ilse frequently applied multiple layers of oil paint on paper that are surprisingly small, a mere nine inches in length and width,' Cirincione explains. A case in point is the artist’s Untitled, 1996, a flush of pink and dove gray punctuated by a soft orange.
'She’s really a prodigy and merits considerable attention,' concludes Cirincione. No small praise.