Holly Coulis’ Fruits and Florals at Cherry and Martin

Walking into Holly Coulis’ solo show at Cherry and Martin, I was surprised to see a majority of large, boldly imagined paintings of flowers, fruits, and vegetable still lifes interspersed with and handful of blurred, dulled landscapes. - Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Holly Coulis | Installation Shot
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin

Holly Coulis | Installation Shot
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin

Coulis’ oil paintings are generally big and bold, highlighted by large, painterly brushstrokes.

They have a pleasing aesthetic that mixes something of a childlike demeanor and spirit with adult sophistication.


Holly Coulis | Cabbage, 2012, oil on linen, 27 x 25 inches
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin

The show had a strange effect on me as it oscillated between muted, vague landscapes and bright, almost-harsh florals and still-lives.  The heightened difference between the two created a strange contrast: one that to me, increased my enjoyment of the florals, fruits, and vegetables.  I didn’t care as much for the preciousness of some of the flower arrangements and paintings (particularly compared to her more loud and playful pairings from 2011 such as “Carnation” or “Onions” below), but her vegetables and fruits were delicious.  I loved the boldness, the monumentality, and the colorful details.


Holly Coulis | Carnation, 2011, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin.

Holly Coulis | Onions, 2011, oil on canvas, 16 x 13 inches
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin.

Holly Coulis | Pink Roses on Blue, 2012, oil on linen, 27 x 25 inches
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin

The contrasting blue lines peeking through the deep purple cabbage and the yellow and red brushstrokes surrounding the green peppers, for instance, completely drew me in.  Whereas in the landscapes, the contrasting colors did not manage to captivate me in the same way.


Holly Coulis | Green Peppers, 2012, oil on linen, 40 x 50 inches
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin

Holly Coulis | Green Peppers, DETAIL

But something about these peppers felt and feels monumentally uplifting to me.  They have been haunting me since I saw the show, in a completely fabulous way. I really appreciate Coulis’ technique and touch.  In my memory and in the photos, these peppers stand out to me with the presence and aura of a classical reclined nude.  Coulis has magnified the peppers quite literally and figuratively, not only exaggerating their size and presence, but also breathing a life into them that I might not ever notice in a living pepper itself.

And the same goes for her lemons, cabbage, and apples.  There is a momentum in these edibles that makes me want to devour that contained energy.


Holly Coulis | Landscape with Red, 2011, oil on linen, 50 x 50 inches
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin

Holly Coulis | Flowers and Lemon, 2012, oil on linen, 50 x 42 inches
Photo Courtesy Cherry and Martin

Some of the additional details she includes in these oil paintings are also really special.  The open, sliced lemon half itself drew me in with its highly defined triangular slices and highlighted outlines, but then the shadows beneath the lemon and vibrant vase of flowers was equally rich and playful.  And it works so well.  The details in these still lifes have a voice that sings and soars and, to me, this carries the show.


Holly Coulis | Flowers and Lemon, Detail

Holly Coulis | Flowers and Lemon, Detail

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Holly Coulis’ solo show runs at Cherry and Martin through April 28th.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.

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