THE GIRLS WE LOVE l Zahra Holm 🎨

Zahra Holm, a self-taught painter with a soft and warm universe

This week we are going to meet Zahra Holm. Of Swedish and Tunisian origin, the works of this self-taught artist-painter focus on the human body and female forms.
Zahra invites us to her beautiful studio in Ivry-sur-Seine, just outside Paris. She comes to the Fabrique Artistes , a place where painters, sculptors and photographers go to work. Zahra goes there every day to create and promote her art. His studio is at number 14 and once through the door, we enter a sublime bright space in which we find all his paintings in beautiful summer colors.
Together, we discussed his art, his inspirations and his taste for vintage and colorful pieces.

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.

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