Holly Anderson is concerned with perceptual affect: the smorgasbord of stimuli that our physiological system is immersed in as we traverse our way through a world of liquid experience. Those familiar with her work will recognise the sun as an almost omnipresent character. When the artist describes to me how disorienting and consuming it feels to be hit by the (very hot light that is the Queensland) sun, I register not only the toll of that discomfort, but a stoic force that lies behind the body as system, eager to document it. It is a force that refuses to assign moral value to what it feels: in that the effects of bodily experiences often cannot be described adequately in linguistic terms, to Anderson they carry no good nor evil, simply a vast, meditative strangeness.
In her projection Blue sun/white shadow (2022), Anderson experiments with two painterly works: the first depicts grid-like, structured pool tiles distorting and shimmering in reaction to the pool’s water surface and the white sunlight. The second renders the shadow of a growing tree against a white trellis. Within the space of a few erratic breaths, the sun’s white reflection begins to engulf the pool on one side of the facade, while on the other side, the tree’s blue shadow creeps over the trellis. Yet both of these look nonsensical: pixel-like and formless, they are more akin to blurred vision, or the experience of photopsia (1). To Anderson, this momentary loss of perceptual coherence points to the illogical nature of experience. While it remains unquantifiable, it is immensely felt.
(1) Photopsia is the phenomenon of seeing light or dark flashes in one’s field of vision, typically when the retina goes from no light to too much light.
Holly Anderson works with painting to investigate sensory experiences with light and landscape. In continual reference to the bathers and sunlit subjects of romantic Australian landscape painting, various ways sunlight might accentuate the limits of perception or describe a strange permeability of the lit world are tentatively explored. In 2017 she completed a BFA with Honours at the Queensland College of Art in Meanjin, Brisbane where she now teaches sessionally.