February 1-26. Here's Looking at You: Johanna Hoogendyk & David Petersen
When was the last time you walked into a gallery and the walls were staring at you? Ah, the title of this exhibit.
Before the invention of photography, a painted, sculpted, or drawn portrait was the only way to record the appearance of someone. But no less an institution as the Tate Art Gallery, London, reminds us that portraits have always been more than just a record. They have been used to show the power, importance, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning or other qualities of the sitter. Portraits have almost always been flattering, and painters who refused to flatter (I'm thinking of 18th century William Hogarth) found their work rejected. A notable exception was Francisco Goya who could be bluntly truthful about the Spanish King and Queen yet still find favor.
Generally in the modern period, commissioned portraits have become increasingly rare. But portraits in general have not. Only the reliance on commissions has. Instead artists paint their friends and lovers in whatever way they please. In the 21st century we see video and digital portraits (selfies come to mind) as a popular alternative to the traditional drawing or painting. So portrait painting continues to flourish.
Are these portraits of interest to you? If the picture is of your Mom or Sister or best friend, you'd answer in the affirmative. But what about these portraits. Since you don't know the person, then the artist has to create enough humanity in his charcoal study or in her oils on canvas. These people are larger than life but do they attract life? And how do we see these images? Contrast of color, soft lines, hard contour lines, broad spaces - these are al compositional elements. But when all the art marks come together, we get a sense of personality within the person.
In the Bisignano Art Gallery, we're looking at them. Or at least I think so. Or are they all looking at us?
Johanna Hoogendyk (b.1988) is a large-scale figurative painter from Western Massachusetts, and a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Iowa. With her work she provides a counter narrative to the broad overarching stereotypes that many of us unconsciously internalize through socialization, interpersonal relationships, or media with which we are barraged in every aspect of our lives.
Johanna Hoogendyk paints images of women whom she knows personally. She paints women who have stories of their own, expertise, knowledge, passions, and power. They are admirable, confrontational, funny, sarcastic, and independent. These human beings are not defined by someone else’s sexual attraction to them, and are not responsible for anyone being attracted to them. They are not responsible for how you see them. They are not responsible for your biases, your assumptions, and the conclusions you might jump to. They sit the way they are comfortable sitting, in their home, in the artist’s studio, at their desk, or visiting a friend. Some look out at the viewer, meeting the viewers gaze with an unapologetic, frank, confident gaze. Some sit “manspreading,” or in the confident pose of a British Empire academic, hand on the desk, papers out, hand on one hip.
Using a variety of media, including painting, drawing, video, print, and metalworking, I’m exploring the world as I have seen and experienced it through the lense of my rural, midwestern upbringing and many-faceted identity. My work often features themes of queerness, experiences growing up in the Catholic Church, wrestling with my racial and cultural identities, and a pursuit of deeper conceptual value.
I'm using portraiture to explore the intimacies and complexities of the human experience. Be it through charcoal, watercolor, oil paint, or another medium, I'm working to convey the depth of people I know in my life. Scale shifts play a pivotal role in the experience of the work, how a viewer might come to know the moment shown. Small works on paper contrast more commanding works on canvas, providing a spectrum of intimacy from the very personal to the unabashedly-public.