10 April 2009

Same Same But Different by Holly Pereira

Same Same But Different
New work by Holly Pereira

April 7th – 26th 2009
The Muse at 269
269 Portobello Road, London, W11 1LR

Private view April 7th, 6-9pm

The frantic race around London on Sunday evening and Monday morning looking for a picture frame shop has been tucked away somewhere in my memory. Somewhere where I’ll never have to think about frames again.

Arriving from Dublin on Sunday afternoon, I tried to find ten large frames for my drawings, which comprise half of my current show in The Muse at 269 Gallery on 269 Portobello Road. The show was hanging the next day and it was with immense speed and panic that I eventually turned up at the Muse on Monday morning, ten (surprisingly heavy) frames under my oxter.

This show is the culmination of a three month artist’s residency in Singapore finishing early this year. I had a small and very hot (non aircon) studio over the Post-Museum, on 107 Rowell Road, Little India. To those familiar with the street, you may realize it happily runs parallel to Desker Road, red-light district extraordinaire.

When I found this out, my eyes lit up with images of Moulin Rouge-type can-cans and glossily beautiful girls: the glamour! The material for art!

Obviously, when I had wiped my rose-coloured lenses down, the grotty reality hit me. This was the sex industry, and there is not much glamour in toothless pimps and prostitutes the age and look of your mother.

Saying that, I had an absolute ball in the studio in Rowell Road, and made many genuinely lovely friends. Singaporeans, in general, are friendly folk and, just like the Irish, like to have a natter and a bit of a groan from time to time.


So this show in The Muse at 269 is basically the product of what happened in Singapore. My paintings are female nudes with animal heads. I won’t insult the viewer as to try to explain what they mean: really they mean something different to everyone. I won’t even realize myself the full extent of meaning till maybe a couple of year’s time. There’s something about hybrids, interculturalism and fairy tales in there, but sure go and see them and tell me what you think.

The rest of the exhibition is drawings of mostly women. In my practice I swerve violently from fine oil painting, where realistic representation is everything, to crazily abstracted, joky, cartoons. In these drawings I deal with notions of femininity, sexuality, exoticness and beauty. I mostly use pencil and watercolour on heavy paper, and also in two pieces (Stories 1 & 2), I use a thin black pen to make intricate patterns akin to Peranakan beading coming out of Singapore airlines girls.

The opening night on Tuesday was fun, and a bit giddy for me. The set up took a lot longer than I had anticipated, and it was with much relief that the place no longer like a bomsite. I had spent a ridiculous amount of time the day before trying to stick my name on the glass window. Actually, if you go to see the show, forget the paintings, check out the lettering. That is real art.

The spot lights were on, the floor was swept, the wine was flowing…perfect. Now I can sit back and relax….till the next time.


Currently Holly Pereira lives and works in Dublin, Ireland, but she is constantly seeking a better climate and much more sunshine.

Text by Holly Pereira