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| Frank E Hollywood (born in 1980) is a well-known artist in the Netherlands who frequently appears in Dutch media, especially because his art is often controversial. He studied at the St. Joost School of Fine Art & Design in Breda and many elements from the world of design do appear in his works. For example, his photorealistic series of oil paintings of famous Dutch women, such as Shelly Sterk, Carolien Spoor and Elize Horst, depict an immediately absurd mix of portrait and modern luxury items, for example Hermes and Chanel bags or Louis Vuitton scarfs.|
With these oil paintings the artist provides a satirical comment on the consumerist society we are all part of and questions our consumption of these designer goods when branding ourselves in the public space. At the same time, he paints these women wearing 16th century clerical collars which, at the time, was commonly worn by the bourgeois. This way, he creates a contrasted and dynamic experience by juxtaposing the modern naked woman and the more pious and covered-up woman of the past. It is as if he is asking us: Which is better? The comparison between the historical portrayal of women and modern icons is also evident in the work ”The Age of Happiness” where a naked woman with a white clerical collar is holding a large smiley in front of her crotch. As if the road to happiness is right there, in the woman’s crotch. At the same time, the image creates a resistance because she is also “pious” or unavailable – as if it would be shameful or a sin to get involved with her. This dichotomy creates an interesting tension in the imagery, where the viewer must somehow respond and decide what this is all about.
CAN you actually view a woman dressed in this collar as a sexual being, regardless of how naked she is? And could it be those considerations the artist wishes to evoke: What does it take to make something sexual? What prevents something from being sexual? Are we turned on – or turned off – by these modern, luxury-craving women? The tension between the way sensuality and women are experienced, now and in the past, is often evident in Frank E Hollywood’s art. This can be expressed as difference in clothing or level of nakedness. His image of the past is not romanticised; rather, he draws on the collective visual history and artistic tradition to create a modern image that serves as a starting point for discussion or reflection. His work reveals his ideas about art in the future: Nostalgic and/or historical images are re-used to create something modern and unique in a new context. And, of course, in these works, he uses our immediate perception of the prudishness of the 16th century juxtaposed with the omnipresent nudity and consumerism of the present. Generally, Frank E Hollywood is not afraid of using themes and symbols from popular culture, and these are often present in his paintings. In some works, apart from the oil paintings mentioned above, pop culture themes and colours are even more prevalent. He also creates merchandise, customised objects and clothing for designer brands, including Bjørn Borg, Spotify, Heineken and Samsung.