"Voce et intellecto." These were the qualities the poet Dante admired in art and when I look at Barbara Hoogeweegen's portraits of women, voce et intelletco are what comes to mind. Representation is the process of re-presenting something so it is no accident that Hoogeweegen portrays her contemporary women as self-possessed, and much more than the sum of their lineage, pace portraits of wealthy and aristocratic women of the Italian Renaissance .
For each one Hoogeweegen chooses a color palette; the one she chose for Jeepers Creepers Where'd you Get Them Peepers is made up of the three primary colors with small daubs of the complementary colors on the neck Applied in broad strokes that often overlap, the paint gets maximal effect without looking labored.
And what is natural about a portrait? Until Leonardo da Vinci posed his female sitters facing the viewer, Renaissance painters presented women in profile, eyes chastely turned away from the viewer. And although da Vinci influenced younger artists like Giorgione, Raphael, and Titian, museums are filled with paintings of vacant, mask-like faces. If that brings Picasso to mind, then everything that is old can be made new. A few years ago Britain's National Portrait Gallery held an exhibition of portraits from its collection that are rarely seen because the sitters have not been identified.
We know that painting dates back to the time of the cave painters at Lascaux and Altamira. They depicted the natural world around but is painting something more than natural when it hang on the walls of a museum? As recent events have reminded us, paintings hang against a background of social and political issues.
Barbara Hoogeweegen is truly an international artist. Born in the Netherlands, she studied art in France and Great Britain and she now lives in London.
Image: Barbara Hoogeweegen - Jeepers Creepers Where'd you Get Them Peepers, 2017, oil on canvas, collection of the artist.