Zahra Holm, a self-taught painter with a soft and warm universe
M: Hello Zahra, could you introduce yourself and tell me about your background?
Z: My name is Zahra and I am a painter. As a child, I drew a lot, then I started painting as a teenager. I don't have a classic career as an artist-painter. I first did a year of artistic preparation in which I was able to touch a lot of things. I did museography, scenography, interior architecture and above all a lot of painting. Even though I wanted to paint professionally, I didn't think it was really possible for me. I don't come from a family of artists and I had no examples of people who had succeeded in doing this. It was my dream job and I told myself that one day I could live from my passion, but it wasn't the time yet. I did 5 years of studies in scenography then I worked in cinema and theater in the creation of sets. After several internships in this environment, I realized that I wanted something else, more freedom in my work. That's when I started to explore lots of techniques and mediums in painting. It became very therapeutic for me, it was where I felt really good. It was in 2015 that I really started painting and since then I paint every day.
M: How would you define your work and your artistic process?
Z: I paint in oils and I often work on several paintings at the same time because working in oils involves long drying times. According to my desires, I can work on both series and single paintings. For my latest series Blue Landscape in the Head , I work on the 3 paintings at the same time in order to keep the same colors in each painting because it is difficult to create continuity in terms of colors and shapes. I do it in a very intuitive way and working in this way allows me to keep this same spirit throughout the series.
M: What inspires you to create your works?
Z: The main theme that I approach in my paintings is the human body and in particular the female body. Body language interests me a lot, it has always fascinated me. I want to show women differently, differently from the image that society makes of them. The faces I paint are not completely feminine either, rather it is the round shapes in my paintings that can be perceived as more feminine.
I am also very inspired by nature. I am Tunisian and Swedish by origin and I had the chance to grow up with a lot of nature around me. It was during the last year, during the confinement, that I realized that nature was a great source of inspiration for me. That's when I started to develop my series Landscapes in the head . We needed warmth and that's also why they are full of sun, light and sunsets.
At the moment, I'm turning to a series centered on the sea: Blue Landscapes in the Head . This time, there are shades of greens and blues. The sea is a strong subject for me because I find that it is very linked to humans. She can be very restless or very calm like us. By painting on another medium, which is natural linen, I get a less smooth and more faded finish that I really like. The undulations of this canvas are reminiscent of waves. In this series, the human and the sea that are one.
M: How would you define your artistic style?
Z: I would say that my style is somewhere between the figurative and the abstract. This varies between paintings, for example Asleep in the Sun is a more abstract painting than other paintings I have here. I don't think I have just one style after all and that it has evolved a lot over time. What I find most interesting is to have something a bit abstract all the same, so that everyone can see what they want and make their own interpretation. For my part, I guide the viewer towards the elements that I want to show. In my case, it's the faces, because for me they are the reflection of the soul and feelings.
M: In addition to painting, you also do ceramics...
Z: Yes I tried it some time ago. I really like to work the clay but I can't do much because I'm not equipped in my workshop. When I have the opportunity, I like to create cups, plates, vases, bowls that take up the curves and colors that I love so much.
M: How would you define your style in 3 words?
Z: Masculine-feminine, colorful and comfortable. I love dressing up, that's quite an expression. I like to be original in my look and I'm not afraid to mix prints.
M: What is your favorite piece in your closet?
Z: A Saint Laurent blazer jacket that I found over 5 years ago. She's cool because she has a great 80 cut, nice shoulder pads and a super pointed collar. Its cut is very graphic and it is fitted. In addition, it is striped black, yellow, red and orange! With pants and a little black top, it's great! I love it, it allows you to be classy and cool at the same time.
M: What is your latest fashion crush?
Z: I've been quite into the 90s trend lately. Otherwise, I love the brand Paloma Wool and bought some very nice green print pants from this brand recently.
M: What is THE piece that a woman should have in her dressing room?
Z: Well-cut jeans. I wear it every day, it's really super practical. It's casual and it also works for a classier look in the evening.
M: Tell me an Instagram account that you love to follow.
Z: I really like @mirandamakaroff's account which is super colorful, quirky and funny. As she is a stylist and painter, her account is a mix of art and fashion. It's super refreshing and fun to follow.
M: Tell me a brand that you love?
Z: I really like Maison Cleo, which is a very ethical brand.
M: As you know, Nénés is an eco-responsible lingerie and swimwear brand made from 100% recycled fibers. And you, what are the green habits that never leave you?
Z: I'm Swedish and they've been recycling there for a very long time, so it's something I've always been doing. I haven't eaten meat for a while either because I don't like it too much. I also try to reduce my plastic consumption as much as possible and to prefer the train to the plane. Finally, I have been against fast-fashion for a very long time and I mainly consume second-hand vintage or products from ethical brands.
M: What does lingerie represent for you?
Z: In lingerie, I'm much simpler than for the rest of my clothes. I like sober and comfortable underwear because lingerie is very intimate and personal for me. The body is already beautiful in itself and I like not to overdo it. I think it's prettier to have simple pieces. Finally, I like lingerie that allows you to combine comfort with something pure and finer.
M: Are you more lace or print?
Z: I prefer simple lace pieces.
M: Armatures or without?
Z: Without! I don't like underwire at all, I've never found it comfortable.
M: What is your favorite Nenes model?
Z: I really like the amber Mia but I love all the Nénés lace triangle tops.
M: What are your plans for the rest of 2021?
Z: I'm going to do some collaborations with brands in ready-to-wear and home decoration. I will also be part of an exhibition that brings together 26 women artists, the theme will be "Sea view" and it is on this occasion that I started my series Blue landscapes in the head.