Known for his drawings and laborious collages exploring class, countercultures, consumption and sexuality, Christian Holstad works across a wide range of media including installations, performance and photography.Read More
Christian Holstad was born in Anaheim, California in 1972 and earned a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1994. His current approach to artmaking began towards the end of his studies; having taken a job as a waiter, Holstad began to pass the time by reading leftover newspapers. Realising that the papers were not able to publish exactly what they wanted, Holstad found himself having to read between the lines to construct reality. This inspired his approach in the way he communicates through his art; he often avoids a clear-cut message or a firm position on the topics he chooses to explore. This direct material influence is also evident in the ongoing series 'Eraserhead' (1996—ongoing), which sees the artist alter newspaper photos through erasure, drawing and collage.
Holstad is also known for his exploration of sexual liberation and gay life. His labour-intensive collages often depict erotic scenes cut from magazines and manipulated through different craft techniques such as sewing, quilting and embroidery. For his 2006 installation Leather Beach, Holstad transformed a former New York deli into an homage to pre-Aids underground leather culture, offering up faux-velvet ropes, chaps, fetish gear assembled from pompoms, chains, hair and glitter. In 2008, he began using embroidery to stich on white towel canvases in a series entitled 'Divided We fall', creating free-standing sculpture of urinals incorporating wasted cigarette butts, condoms and French fries.
Holstad's fascination and interest in the social and consumerist culture is explored in many ongoing series. His 2013 solo exhibition The Book of Hours at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York was inspired by the Christian devotional book of the same title, which was published in the Middle Ages and promoted the rejection of natural desires as a path towards enlightenment. For the show, Holstad created soft sculptures which mirrored street scenes to underline contemporary capitalist society's disconnection from nature.
In the 2016 solo exhibition Toothpick at Massimo de Carlo in Milan, Holstad again explored the semiotics of the domestic versus public spheres through a collection of sculptures representing the cycle of creation, growth, consumption, waste and destruction. Similarly, his 2019 site-specific installation in Venice entitled Consider yourself as a guest (Cornucopia) was a message about environmental destruction; made from plastic waste, the work was inspired by the theme of marine protection from plastic waste pollution.
Holstad has been part of numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including The Pasta Workshop 2, Bologna, Italy (2020); Still Human, Rubell Family Collection Contemporary Arts Museum, Miami (2018); New Positions, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2017); Be Clear With Your Intent, Schmidt & Handrup, Cologne (2016); The Book of h/Ours, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2013); and You Will Find Me if You Want Me in the Garden unless It's Pouring Down With Rain, Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan (2011).
Additionally, Christian Holstad's performance entitled Red, Yellow, Lime, Pink, Lavender, Green, Scarlet, Lavender, Scarlet, Green, Lavender was presented as part of The Magazine Sessions at London's Serpentine Gallery at 2016.
Christian Holstad's works are part of permanent collections in institutions such as MoMA, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo.
Christan Holstad lives and works in New York. His website can be found here.
Leila Sajjadi | Ocula | 2021
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