My Grandfather in Auschwitz
Dora Holzhandler was born in Paris on 22nd March 1928, into a family of Polish-Jewish refugees. Just a few months later she was sent to a Catholic foster family in Normandy, as a result of the collapse of her father’s business. She was reunited with her family at the age of five, and the following year they moved to London.
Holzhandler went back to Paris in 1946; she studied French literature at the Sorbonne and art at La Grande Chaumière. Holzhandler returned to London in 1948 and attended the Anglo-French Art Centre. It was here that she fell in love with, and in 1950 married, George Swinford. They had three daughters together, Amalie (b. 1951), Hepzibah (b. 1956) and Hermione (b. 1966).
In her later life Holzhandler travelled widely, to India (1980), Thailand (1980), New York (1986), Israel (1987) and Finland (1993/4). Although Holzhandler’s art can be described as having a naive style – they are childlike in execution – they often include complex and sophisticated narratives.
Her style is distinctly recognisable, and focuses on themes such as self-portraits, mother and child, religious and Jewish imagery, lovers and landscapes. She considers herself both Jewish and Buddhist, and these religions largely influence and shape her work and style. She has exhibited her work in London, Bath, Paris and New York. Her work is in public collections in London (Museum of London, Ben Uri), Brighton (Brighton Art Gallery and Museum), Glasgow (The Gallery of Modern Art) and Haifa, Israel (The Museum of Art).