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Lola Collins

Lola Collins is an artist from Washington, D.C., working at the intersection of painting and sculpture.

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Artist profile


Lola Collins is an experimental artist from Washington, D.C., whose abstract pieces, reminiscent of piled and crumpled fabrics, question the physical and spatial boundaries of painting and sculpture. Rejecting conventional ways of making and exhibiting art, Lola’s conceptually driven practice symbolises resistance against established painting traditions while speaking of her experience as a black woman artist. 

Upon completing her bachelors with two separate majors, in Art History and Anthropology, Collins transitioned to fine art at the Chelsea College of Art, to pull these two disciplines together. She notes: “Studying about black radical theory and anthropology felt very tied to my inner identity and to what I wanted to express. This pushed me towards painting, and more specifically, towards abstraction.”

Drawing from, and reimagining the black radical tradition of abstract expressionism, Collins works with gestural, expressive brushstrokes and exuberant colours. However, in spite of the vibrant canvases, Lola’s sculptural pieces are tinged with what she describes as “melancholy”. Her geometrical shapes and abstract lines are leaning towards the ‘real’, tacitly speaking of their historical, social and political contexts. “In the US, being black is often abstracted into labour, danger and violence, but I reverse it, and use abstraction as a means to reclaim my agency over my identity’ explains Lola.

One of her latest series, called ‘crushed works’, are fuelled by the artist’s frustrations with her medium, expressed by the juxtaposition of form and colour; vibrant versus crushed, harmonious versus torn apart. “I find painting frustrating, because I don't want to do it the way it is normally portrayed. As a result, there is a palpable tension in my works - I want to create, but at the same time, by crushing, and cutting up my pieces, I continually fight this impulse” notes Lola. Besides straying away from the stretched canvas, Collins also likes to engage with unconventional ways of exhibiting her work; in nature or in urban environments, incorporating poles, pillars or sand into her pieces. Lola says “I put my work outside a lot because I wanted to show it in a place other than the white cube.” The act of painting, burying, piling up, or discarding the canvas in public becomes an integral element of the work: an extended gesture of the piece that Lola calls “performative painting”. Her ‘Beach Work Series’, embracing monochrome canvases buried into the sand by Southbank, question personal and collective histories and the works’ and her own relationship to its wider, and more immediate environment. “Through my pieces at the Thames Beach, I wanted to make people question where they are, and accentuate the layers of histories that are present. The piece made me think about the actual ocean, and my relationship to the waterbody as someone who is a descendant of slavery” Lola explains.

Currently, Collins is navigating the art scene in two different cities at once, in London and in San Francisco. Apart from continuing with her sculptural installations and her crushed painting series, Lola hopes to pursue her interest in costume design and explore the relationship between physical objects and the body.

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I'm a Stranger...In a Strange Land...

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I'm Part of It Now (Beachwork Series)

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