If you happen to be in Berlin this month, head over to Bode Projects gallery and check out the works by young, Dallas-based artist Riley Holloway currently on display there. Collected by the likes of mega-collector Serge Tiroche and singer Alicia Keys and her husband 'Swizz Beatz' (Kasseem Dean), Holloway's art has reached an audience far beyond his city. Despite his increasing success, the appeal of his paintings remains in their honest depiction of 'home' and the tender memories associated with it.

Riley Holloway is best known for his emotive portraits and intimate familial scenes that marry text and image in poetic dialogue. His perspective of wandering thoughts, fears and struggles, is brought to light through traditional drawing and oil painting techniques. Holloway attended The Art Institute of Dallas and the Florence Academy of Art, both of which undoubtedly provided him with an artistic grounding that has since developed into his fluent and characteristic style.

'If I could go back in time, I would, but only for a moment. Something tells me that it's dangerous to fall in love with nostalgia, that it's easy to overstay your welcome and lose yourself. Dealing with loss can leave you with a bitterness that you wear like a heavy coat you never take off. Now that's ok if you want to stay lost, but for me, my life changed the moment I decided to put a smile on and move forward!' is written around the edges of Holloway's painting The Day I Put My Smile On (2021).

Holloway is a masterful storyteller; sometimes, the anecdotes written in the margins of his paintings visibly correlate to the unfolding scenes illustrated on the canvas, while other times, the message conveyed appears tantalisingly out of reach. Either way, the stories that emerge ultimately draw parallels with the lives of the viewer.

Blessed to Know What Bliss Feels Like is a prime example of the artist's work and is just one of the pieces currently hanging at Bode Projects gallery. A casual family portrait capturing a fleeting moment in the back garden, the painting evokes memories of simple pleasures. A couple's embrace caught mid-movement offers a glimpse into their lives and their relationship. The laundry in the background, hanging out to dry, only adds to the sincerity of the scene.

Though Holloway's canvases seem to represent specific personal events, as though taken from a family photo album, their images reflect all of us. We can all relate to the slightly chaotic birthday parties, the crowded Sunday lunches and the peaceful moments found within quotidian habits. Equally, Holloway uses his art to bring to light some of life's more poignant encounters in a way that is cathartic for the artist and viewer alike. The images are an engaging mixture of perception, tranquillity, rage, motion and stillness - a distillation of the artist's own observations of the contradictions found in the African-American experience today.

For more information on Riley or summer art shows, please contact Quintessentially's Art Department.


Image at top,

Riley Holloway, The Day I Put A Smile On, 2021, 121 × 80 cm / 47 5/8 × 31 1/2 in, Oil on canvas © Courtesy the artist and Bode Projects

Lead gallery image,
Riley Holloway, Blessed to Know What Bliss Feels Like, 2021, 106 × 106 cm / 41 3/4 × 41 3/4 in, Oil on canvas © Courtesy the artist and Bode Projects


About the author

Bojana Popovic worked for nearly five years as a Specialist in Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie's auction house in London before starting her own consulting service, emphasising academic expertise and art market knowledge. She holds a Masters from The Courtauld Institute of Art and has worked at TATE Britain, The Serpentine Galleries, and as a Collection Manager for a distinguished private gallery in Zurich and Paris.

For the past year, alongside her consultancy, Bojana has been working as a lecturer for Quintessentially, providing thought-provoking insights into Post-War and Contemporary Art for our Art Patrons.