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Outside In or Inside Out Dora Holzhandler - A Retrospective
Dora Holzhandler, The Passover Meal. RONA Gallery, London.

LONDON, ENGLAND.- .- The Ben Uri Gallery at the London Jewish Museum of Art presents the exhibition Outside In or Inside Out Dora Holzhandler - A Retrospective, featuring selected works from an extraordinary and prolific career which spans more than fifty years.

Born in Paris in 1928 of Jewish parentage, Dora had an unsettled childhood. The collapse of her father’s business forced her into care with a Catholic family in Normandy for six years, before her family re-grouped and moved to London in 1934. Together again, the immediate family endured the War in England, but much of her extended family perished at Auschwitz. Dora briefly returned to Paris after the War but came back to live permanently in London in 1948.

The exhibition highlights the life experiences, values and beliefs that have shaped her artistic progression over more than five decades. A critical artistic reassessment is also made in the wake of recent developments explored in exhibitions across Europe and the USA which have focused attention on Outsider Artists, such as the Los Angeles County Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition Parallel Visions (1992), The Museum of Modern Art’s High and Low; Modern Art and Popular Culture (1990) and the Whitechapel Gallery’s current major exhibition Inner Worlds Outside (2006)

Dora’s work has been constantly influenced by external passions and beliefs, particularly her dual belief in both Jewish and Buddhist religions. Her recognisably-stylised works are established through the use of repeated iconography, mystical and religious symbolism.

Furthermore, Dora’s repetition of certain themes throughout her career has helped to establish a unique and striking oeuvre. It is these influential themes which have shaped this exhibition into five sections: Self Portraits, Mother and Child, Religious Imagery, Lovers and Landscapes. Each section explores the range of work produced over five decades and investigates thematic development nourished by life experience and religious experimentation.

Dora’s credentials as a naïve artist are long established. First recognised by fellow artist Victor Pasmore in 1947, she was ‘discovered’ professionally by Helen Lessore, who hosted her first exhibition in 1954.

In practice, Dora is a self taught artist, the principle criterion of ‘Outsider Art’. Nevertheless, this is a label that she does not easily accept, hence the exhibition title Outside In or Inside Out.

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