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John Holt

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Often being confused on a search engine request for namesake John Holt, the reggae music artist rather than the contemporary landscape artist we’re concentrating on here, our John Holt instantly diffuses the stressful situation with the presentation of his calming painted scenes of traditional harbours and such like. Although we’re pretty sure John Holt the musician would also chill us the shizzle out with his own brand of tuneage. Anyway, we digress. Art is the name and in this instance Provencal landscapes, café scenes, hill towns and harbour reflections are the very illustrated game, courtesy of the John Holt whose of the greater interest to us.
Born and bred near Manchester in 1949, Holt won a place on the coveted BA (Hons) Advertising and Graphic Design course at Stockport College of Art whence he’d bode farewell to secondary education in his native North West. Going on to complete the final year of this degree course at Salford College of Art, Holt’s end of year work was honoured in the receipt of the prestigious Bursary Award, as handed over by no lesser body than the respected Royal Society of Arts.
After successfully graduating with all creative guns blazing it would appear, Holt ventured into the commercial world of advertising as of 1973, and engaged in the role of Art Director for a prestigious agency, where his primary remit was the design and illustration of titles for the European market. It transpires that it was courtesy of this position and the exposure to Spanish and French post-Impressionist painters in particular that his interest and later, passion for the subject matter blossomed. Inspired by the works of art he witnessed Holt took it upon himself to visit both local and national art exhibitions around this time and quickly established a penchant for the creative works of the revered likes of Fauvist masters, Matisse and Braque.
This new-found fascination with the illustrative genre and truly took a seismic hold of Holt and he knew he had to paint for himself, whilst harbouring a long term view of perhaps even painting for a living. Over the following weeks and months Holt set about laying the foundations to achieve just that, and started putting together a portfolio of individual pieces both for his own personal pleasure as well as with one eye to his future.
Today, with titles such as ‘French Riviera, Café Provence, Sunflowers, Simaine’ and View of Mento’ forming signature parts of Holt’s impressive back catalogue, there’s no mistaking the preferred vistas and panoramas which the artist has routinely made his business to track down and then interpret in his own distinguished pictorial way over the intervening years and since turning professional. Holt’s work has been the subject of countless group and solo exhibitions both home and away, as his stock rose sharply in contemporary landscape circles as he quickly gained a foothold within the genre.
Such was the success that Holt encountered from pretty much the outset that it was suggested that he found himself a fine art publisher in which to represent him in a crowded market place, and more pertinently someone with whom Holt could collaborate with in light of getting his work out there to a broader demographic. Obviously quality reproductions and limited edition prints of Holt’s originals were the best plan of immediate, commercially-orientated action, and it wasn’t long before demand for Holt’s original pastel and oil compositions were threatening to outstrip supply at that initial juncture. Thanks to an extensive publishing programme of his superb limited edition prints and dazzling original silk-screens, Holt rise to prominence in the mainstream public art-collecting arena gained momentum.
In terms of Holt’s hallmark style and illustrative delivery, the Impressionism presentation which we touched on earlier set his specific pictorial scene going forward, and one which he still very much champions today; complete with a use of exuberant colouration, yet packaged with a certain degree of laid back charm. Speaking on this very matter, Holt offers the following insight into his thinking behind and considered approach to his paintings; “I have worked at giving my paintings a very special warmth of their own. As well as being evocations of particular places, my work is related to abstract ideas, executed in slabs of rich colour and texture”. Duly recognised and acknowledged by the industry which he serves well, Holt has been regularly nominated by the respected Fine Art Trade Guild, with this bestowed upon him in the category of ‘Best Up and Coming Artist’ in two successive years (1999 and 2000) amongst Holt’s honours.