All Rendered Truth - Camden Art Centre

Camden Art Centre is delighted to present a major institutional solo show by American artist and musician, Lonnie Holley (b.1950, Birmingham, Alabama).

The exhibition will centre new works made during a production residency in the UK earlier this year, alongside previously unseen sculptures made at The Mahler and LeWitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy in 2023. A celebrated musician, Holley will perform a live concert at Camden Art Centre on 5 July.

Active across more than four decades, Holley is recognised as an important figure in the Black Art tradition from the southern states of America, as well as a significant artist in the mainstream of international twentieth century and contemporary art. He has a visionary capacity to intuit and reveal to others the significance, symbolism and meaning of the overlooked and discarded. He learned how to make art as a child in the ‘creeks and ditches’ around his home in Alabama where he would dig for worms and find buried objects. As if connected to the regenerative cycles of decomposing organic matter in the soil, and in an act of recuperation, he introduces a redemptive aspect to rejected objects, giving them dignity and new life.

Holley finds beauty in what is immediately at hand, compulsively improvising to convey his meaning ‘by any means necessary’. Influenced from an early age by American culture—sneaking through back doors or sewer pipes to the drive-in cinema and Alabama State Fairground or working at Disneyland Orlando—Holley’s primary material has been the iconography and cultural refuse of Americana, signifying the failed promise of the American dream. A recent production residency in Suffolk has enabled him to direct this methodology to objects and materials salvaged here in the UK, including brambles and Victorian glass apothecary bottles, bringing new narratives into play.

With immense generosity and a willingness to share his experiences with others, Holley’s work is infused with, and highly conditioned by, his own journey—including the poverty and hardships of his early childhood, his immersion in the civil rights movement, the legacies of slavery, and the systematic oppression and exploitation of Black people. Whilst being deeply rooted to a specific, traumatic place and past, Holley speaks with hope and humility to universal concerns, projecting an inspirational message about how to live a life well and to prepare a world for future generations. The work speaks powerfully about our shared humanity, but also what is beyond the human condition, expressed through his deep love of the natural world which extends to other organisms, life-forms, the planets and stars. As the artist often asserts, his work gives a ‘thumbs up to mother universe’.

Images Artist Film Supported by The Artist

Lonnie Holley on his exhibition 'All Rendered Truth' at Camden Art Centre, 2024. This film was produced by Reynir Hutber. Music by Lonnie Holley.

Supported by

Henry Moore Foundation

The Artist

Lonnie Holley (b. 1950, Birmingham, Alabama) lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. Recent solo exhibitions include Lonnie Holley, UT Downtown Gallery, Knoxville (2023); If You Really Knew, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami (2023); What Have They Done with America, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2022); The Growth of Communication, Edel Assanti, London (2022); Coming From the Earth, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas (2022); The Influence of Images, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland (2021); Everything That Wasn’t White, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill (2021); Somewhere in a Dream I Got Lost: Works by Lonnie Holley, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem (2019); and The Weight of Everything at James Fuentes, New York, NY (2017). Recent group exhibitions include Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2023); Deep Horizons, Middlesbrough Institute of Art, Middlesbrough (2023); Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2022); The Art of Assemblage, NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale (2022); American South, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York (2021); Forms of Life, Morán Morán, Los Angeles, CA (2020); and History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2018).