Bruce Holwerda is truly a mixture of both a painter and, a cartoonist. He received his B.F.A from the Utica College of Syracuse University and later a degree in illustration from the Kendall School of Art and Design. He is a surrealist when it comes to his paintings combining various elements into his works that one wouldn’t normally expect to see. To him art is something to be tampered with. He discovered his current style of artwork while attending a figure drawing class. As he studied a rather stern looking figure he created a whimsical scene instead. Just as many artists view art, to Holwerda it has no rules. Some of Holwerda’s main inspirations come from within himself. His fantastical worlds just seem to already reside in his head and, the main dilemma he faces is how to fit all that he wants on one page.
His process of creating art is very similar to something that I am famous for doing. He works on many works at a time, and when it comes to a point where he just needs a break he stashes the unfinished piece away to be completed at a later date. In doing so he believes that he can fairly critique his own work at a later time. This is something I believe all artists are known to do at one point or another in their career. Holwerda is a fan of all sorts of art, ranging from glass to bronzework, and even the simplicity of a realistic landscape can fascinate him.
One thing that drew me to Holwerda’s work are the portraits that include masks. In his work “Hide and Seek” a figure is covered by multiple masks and, an ornate hat. Aside from the figure itself seeming uncertain the masks themselves seem to have personalities. One mask seems to look very dark, and almost defeated while another seems relaxed and, submissive. Aside from his physically masked figures many of his figures are created in such unique colors that they seem to be wearing masks themselves. The layering of color, and redness in the figures cheeks and nose makes them almost seem clownish, or as though they have on some sort of disguise.
One thing I really envy about Holwerda is his ability to keep a picture busy without making it too chaotic. I know I love keeping my works busy, and sometimes I have been known to go overboard. However, Holwerda is able to balance out his figures and creatures in a sort of harmony that makes them seem as though they were meant to coexist exactly as they are in that freeze frame of a painting. He is also fearless when it comes to incorporating various brushstrokes and, colorations. His work truly reflects his experimentation however, it’s obvious that he has learned how to make his masterpieces both cohesive, and a bit disconnected at the same time. To me, many of his works have the dynamic of representing polar opposites. They’re comforting figures with an unsettling twist of creatures emerging from their head, face, or shoulders.
From what I’ve read and viewed there is no method to Holwerda’s madness. He is seriously just a whimsical artist taking what he sees in his mind and putting it on paper. From what I’ve researched about him art is his happiness. He doesn’t create works out of stress or, trying to explain a tragedy instead, he finds joy in his works, and brings joy to his viewers as well.