Curtis Holder sat inbetween two of his portrait pieces.
Art and culture

Solo Art Exhibition by Curtis Holder

December 21, 2021

Curtis Holder, winner of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2020, presents his first solo art exhibition, hosted at 45 Park Lane. Discover in his own words what drawing means to him and get a taste of what to expect at this striking show.
Curtis Holder Artist Caron in Sunshine

Childhood dream

Ever since I was a young child, I’ve always loved to draw. It’s a passion that’s stayed with me and I’m still happiest with a pencil in my hand. I often marvel at how something so simple can be used to convey any emotion and offer me endless storytelling opportunities. Appearing on television and winning Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2020, culminating in a commission to draw world-renowned ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, has been life-changing and enabled me to follow my dream.

From the moment I saw Curtis competing for the title of ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’ knew I wanted him to exhibit at 45 Park Lane.

John Scanlon

General Manager at 45 Park Lane

Portrait of John Scanlon
Portrait of Curtis Holder

Way of working

I start every drawing with a conversation, which is a chance to glimpse into the mind of my subject and make a genuine connection with them. From the moment the conversation begins, so does the drawing. I work spontaneously and act instinctively. My goal is to show people’s emotions, along with my own observations. I want my artworks to have an honesty to them, to reflect the heartfelt conversations behind the images and highlight snapshots of other people’s lives.

Every stroke counts

I rarely erase lines I’ve drawn as they’re all part of the story, even when the narrative changes direction or I see things from a fresh perspective. I build tone and depth with complex layers of colour, injecting spontaneous lines to emphasise form or emotional intent, until I sense I’ve portrayed their story in a meaningful way. I’m naturally curious and I invite others to be curious when viewing my art.

It’s really striking how Curtis has taken the familiar art of pencil drawing and carved out his own niche by creating supersized images that capture your imagination.

Lily Ackerman

Art Curator at 45 Park Lane

Portrait of Lily Ackerman
curtis holder artwork in the library at 45 park lane

Open to emotion

Having worked as a primary school teacher, I’ve learnt so much from children about creating art from the heart and staying true to yourself. As an artist, I’m dedicated to drawing out others’ emotions, creativity and individuality. If I can tune into how a sitter feels and they can recognise and relate to themselves in their portrait then I know I’ve done my job. It’s not unusual for people to react by bursting into tears but thankfully they’re usually happy tears or a wonderful sense of release.

Inspiration for Unspoken

The team at 45 Park Lane first contacted me during lockdown to discuss creating an exhibition. I visited the hotel as soon as I could and it struck me how homely it felt. I decided to gather a group of models at the hotel and spend time drawing them over the course of a few days. It was an intense experience but immensely rewarding, and it’s particularly exciting to see the images displayed in the setting that inspired them.

New projects

I’m currently considering several exciting new projects for 2022, including a series of group exhibitions in the UK.  Most of all I’m looking forward to continuing to push my drawing forward in new ways. As an artist, I believe it’s fundamental to keep evolving and taking risks. Since ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’ I’ve made connections with some fascinating, diverse people in the fields of music, the arts and entertainment, and I can’t wait to develop those relationships and produce new work. Watch this space!

curtis holder preview night at 45 park lane
Nina Photography

Please do stop to see Curtis Holder’s incredible exhibition if you get the chance. Something Unspoken can be seen until January 24 in both the lobby area and BAR 45 at 45 Park Lane.

Back to Dorchester Collection Moments
Art and culture
More like this
Collect issue 28

Collect Magazine

View the latest issue of Collect, our bi-annual magazine featuring a curated mix of culture, art and lifestyle, together with the latest news from Dorchester Collection hotels.