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Entanglements of Unity: A Deep Dive into Magda Holden's Art

Joana Alarcão

Embark on a journey through the intricate tapestry of art that transcends the boundaries of conventional themes. In this review, we delve into a realm where science and spirituality converge, weaving a narrative that mirrors the interconnectedness of our existence. Join us as we explore the profound layers of Magda Holden's creations, provoking contemplation on caring, empathy, and solidarity in the face of our evolving world.

30 November 2023

My artistic practice lies in between two worlds: the spiritual and the physical. The perception of everything being interconnected is the concept that underpins my work. By embracing materiality, vibrant colours, and organic shapes my practice focuses on combining nature with notions of spirituality through painting to create a space for an otherworldly process of soul-searching and meaning. My paintings trace connections between nature’s micro and macro world which result in imaginary landscapes. By working in layers to imbue a sense of depth and form my paintings crossover from physicality of nature and materiality to an otherworldly and spiritual reality. My scientific interests come through collecting, observing, and analysing the world around me by means of photography, tracing methods, and microscopes. Spiritual knowledge, accumulated through my faith, stories, and keen attention to dreamworld, manifests itself in a dialogue between an intuitive use of my materials and my imagination

Many of us are well aware of the common theme found in contemporary art that focuses on raising awareness about climate change. This highlights the importance of acknowledging the interconnectedness and resilience of the natural world. The artist I come to analyse today, or rather the practice, goes a step further - exploring the theme through a macro and micro lens. Magda Holden seamlessly intertwines science and spirituality in her creations and uncovers a profound narrative that reflects the needs of our times.

"Under the guise of symbolic images, the voices that are normally suppressed or prohibited by our conscious mind powerfully arise to nudge, intrigue, or perplex us. Also, by combining science with spirituality, art can manifest deeper and truer portrayal of reality."

Entanglements by Magda Holden. Image courtesy of Magda Holden

With careful attention to the concept of interdependence, giving space for the process of soul-searching, the artist's work prompts introspection and open dialogues about caring, empathy and solidarity. It invites viewers to delve into their own emotions and experiences while connecting with the artist's intention.

Holden's artwork "Entanglements", is the embodiment of these concepts. A painting with vivid blue tones, inspired by the artist's scientific interest in the natural environment, raises questions about the importance of water as a source of all life. Upon closer inspection, you can notice a skeleton-like map of microorganisms, ferns, and traced leaf veins which magnifies the significance of water and symbolizes the origins of life. The entanglement of invertebrates in threads, painted in a symbolic pinky-orange, addresses the critical issue of water pollution, developing a visual tapestry of fragile and resilient interconnectedness within the environment.

"The perception of everything being interconnected is the concept that underpins my work." the artist told me. "By exploring what is visible and physical, I want to reach what is spiritual, transcendent, and inherent to all to communicate the wonder of unity. Join together, humans and nature create a delicately balanced ecosystem."

Details of Entanglements by Magda Holden. Image courtesy of Magda Holden

Like the central theme of her practice, Holden's creative process is a vibrant interconnection of materials and techniques. Each painting, a unique experiment, bridges the physical and spiritual realms through layers of experimentation. "By combining various materials such as paper or wood, ink, watercolours, acrylic, oil, pastel, raw pigments, seeds, and leaves with techniques for example painting, drawing, decalcomania, impasto, tracing, imprinting, the link between the physical and spiritual world is created through working in layers." the artist explained.

Her look at the concept researched, the material used and even the technique applied are an intricate harmony of artistic creativity and the need to evoke emotions like hope, longing, and light. It is a constant battle between intuitive emotional questioning of the inner and outer worlds. A delicate balance between spirituality and science. This becomes evident upon close analysis of her artwork "Riverine", which portrays the movement of water in an abstract manner, utilizing bold colours and intricate textures.

Riverine by Magda Holden. Image courtesy of Magda Holden

"I would argue that art’s activism is similar to the function of dreams. Pictorial visions of a dreamer and a visual language of art can powerfully manifest our deepest hopes and fears. Art and dreams function as platforms into which the most important aspects of life can resurface and speak to us."

Richly influenced by Romantic aesthetics, ecological themes, and scientific concepts, Holden draws inspiration from a diverse pool of artists like Shirazeh Houshiary, Kiki Smith, and Bill Viola. This diverse influence contributes to the multifaceted layers of her practice, creating a compelling narrative rooted in sublime cosmologies, human body exploration, and meditation.

Even more, Holden's personal background, rooted in her Christian faith, Slavic folk stories, and a keen appreciation for dreams, forms a rich tapestry that influences her artistic expression. This complex interplay between intuition and imagination invites the viewer to contemplate and slow down.

Detail of Riverine by Magda Holden. Image courtesy of Magda Holden.

While delving into Holden's practice you are prompted to challenge dominant narratives, fostering a deeper understanding of diverse cultural backgrounds and knowledge layers. I would say Magda Holden's work is a testament to the transformative power of art as a means of communication and self-expression.

For those interested in delving deeper into Magda Holden's work, explore her website and exclusive interview on Patreon.

Cover Image:

Detail of Entanglements by Magda Holden. Image courtesy of Magda Holden

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