Student Conversation - Nigel Holohan

"It’s not painting, it’s making a painting."

On exploration:

Time and patience are an important factor in my paintings. It’s funny I don’t really have a definite finishing point. The inverted paintings determine themselves, they’re finished when they reach their physical limit. This idea or process came about from my exploration of the physical properties of the paint and what it does. For example gloss paint has a skin like quality, so I would look at things that would relate to that physically. With acrylic I would look at layers I can peel off. It has a more robust feel, so I can mould it and make impressions and shape. I let the paint determine what I can do and relate it to other things, skin, textiles, materials, geological formations. By looking at other I things I can figure out what I’m going to do with the paint.

On tradition:

Sometimes ideas come about from cutting and tearing the paint. This would make me think of something else, something completely unrelated. Traditionally when you’re painting you would be looking at other styles and images, I kinda look at the physicality of it and that’s what sparks my interest in other things. I used to work with a stone mason and the idea of layers comes from when I was breaking the stone and the experience of playing with the material. I had it in my mind to teach when I came here first but once I started to get into the process of college my interests and drive was always to slow it down, make things, cut boards, build structures that kind of thing and then involve this in my painting.


On process:

I’ve been focused on using the paint but if I was going to use another material I would probably use a primer or support and look at their relationship with paint. How I weaken or strengthen the paint. If the paint was strengthened it could take on a quality like calf skin, this then questions how I would present it. Maybe hang it like a tapestry. I find the structure and theoretical confines of the medium being used and then re-question this and slow it down again.

On painting:

The finished play is really enjoyable. It’s like working into a plain of wood or marble. You’re bringing out the object’s personality. The unexpected nature of it is what makes it exciting for me. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, it takes on it’s own identity. You’re not being too controlling of it. It’s not painting, it’s making a painting.


On the future:

Next up for me is to apply for awards, residencies or bursaries, whatever I can. Try and get into exhibitions and experience life outside of the academic environment and explore the potential of my skills, make materials. Things may end up looking different but everything remains connected through the physical making of objects. It’s what I do.