Archive for September, 2014

When I ask my students who they regard as the world’s leading artist, they often have no idea. And most of them have never heard of Brad Holland.

Rhodesia was under sanctions in 1972, not that it bothered anybody.I first encountered the art of Brad Holland in a Playboy magazine, sold from under his counter by a Greek café owner.

As a young artist fresh from conservative South Africa, no TV, movies like Clockwork Orange and the Last Tango in Paris banned, Playboy was an Alladin’s cave of creativity and kinky fun!

Brad Holland. 3rd eye.

Brad Holland. 3rd eye.

I found an interview with Michael Crichton in which he undertook to kill himself at age 30 “because that is when we lose our creative mojo”, and then I came across a monthly feature called the “Ribald Classic”.

These pieces featured erotic stories and poems from centuries back, but it was the illustration that riveted me. Black ink drawing with what seemed to be a broken pen on bad cardboard, nervous, clumsy lines, and passages of tight pattern, often checkerboard. But the drawing..!

It was like seeing my first Klimt, long erotic contours, faces like a more virile Beardsley, and expressive but anatomically logical figure work. These were not illustrations, these visions spring directly from a tortured, delighted imagination. It was art of the highest level. That was what I thought at 27, and it is what I think now.

The next time I saw Brad Holland’s work was in a collection from the New York Times Op Ed Page. He had reinvented himself. Now he was serious political commentator with a style more reminiscent of Rembrandt’s etchings.

In the movie “Nine and a half weeks”, one sequence featured a slide show of paintings that I was convinced were by Brad Holland, although I had never seen any work by him in oils. Any way, this was, as before when I went scrounging for Playboy Magazines at the Greek in the corner shop, my excuse for seeing the movie about 12 times.

Brad Holland thinks of himself as an illustrator. He is not. All his illustration work was for editorial purposes, independently conceived. And all of it is fine art.

You can read Brad Holland’s blog here:


Read Full Post »