FREE SPIRITS

"Sometimes you do something just for yourself, not caring who will see it. You don’t care what others may think of it. All you care about is the thrill, the rush, that moment and what comes of it"

Other times, other stories. America was different and sport even more. A new specialty was born that would become one of the revolutions of those years: skateboard. 70’s California: the photographer Hugh Holland, was the first to capture the free spirits of the Californian skaters.

Hugh Holland was a self-taught artist who began experimenting with his photography in the mid-sixties when he moved to Los Angeles. In 1968, after a trip to Spain he settled in the west of Hollywood. One day, in the afternoon while  driving on Laurel Canyon road, he met some young skateboarders near the drain along the side of the canyon. The photographer was fascinated by those kids speeding on the roads, which dared  to enter someone else’s  emptied pool to perform their incredible tricks.

In 1975 he captured what today is considered the largest photographic collection of young skaters. He portrayed the teens that would have soon become worldwide icons, like the Lords Of Dogtown and Z-Boys on the streets of Venice Beach. Holland realized that behind the boards speeding on the boulevards there was something else: the desire to stand out, to give a new meaning to freedom, he understood that it wasn’t just a game or a mere sport. The photographer followed the skate culture evolution like a diary, he described everything in the finest details.

His photos were shoot always in the afternoon, using a cinematic technique that gave to the images an historical narrative with a contemporary atmosphere. Framed faces by blond hair, tanned bodies with tubular socks matched with Vans shoes are the representation of the California Youth in all Holland’s iconic shoots.

He spent the following years documenting skateboarders on the streets of L. A., San Fernando Valley, Venice Beach and Mexico. The photographic works of Holland have been internationally exhibited and the “Angels”  serie was shown in 2006 at M + B. After this huge success, this collection was exhibited also in London, Paris, New York, Sydney and the Pera Museum of Istanbul. His monograph, “Locals Only”, was published in 2012 0, jointly with his second exhibition at M + B.

In 2011 Hugh Holland showed his pictures at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles-Moca, including his  street art’s research in a collective exhibition entitled “Art in the Streets”.