This is a series of paintings that recount the World War II era from a familial perspective and functions as testaments to the changing face of war and the global economy.
With their quiet, unassuming stillness, Will Holub’s series of paintings manages to tackle the haunting union between saving and surrendering a life. Holub’s paintings are based on photographs from his father’s 1942 documentary yearbook of navigator candidates. The artist’s illustrational style and intimate scale encourage a personal relationship with these faces that evoke a sense of unknown nostalgia. The faces, some smiling, some posing sternly for their portraits, allow a familiarity with the paintings, whose titles are appropriately the names and hometowns of the subjects depicted. Simultaneously, the unrelenting gazes of these men create an eerie environment and a sense of separation or anonymity, a stark contrast to the connections we forge with the small, optimistic canvases. The painted frames encircling their faces are reinventions of the Lucky Strike cigarette label, a period-appropriate reference to the marriage of the marketable and the deadly. The circular frame likewise illuminates the striking balance between the halo and the target mark of a martyr. With careful, minimal revision to the aesthetic of the period, Holub invents relatable histories for his subjects in a manner that honors both personal history and its inevitable culmination.