Barbara Hoogeweegen and Maria Torraba: Gorgeous at Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Conway Street

Once again the Rebecca Hossack gallery presents another stunning exhibition, this one appropriately titled, “Gorgeous”, featuring works by Barbara Hoogeweegen and Mara Torroba. Gorgeous features portraits of women by both artists, who each have their own unique and equally stunning techniques in which they choose to create their interpretations of beauty.

“Gorgeous” refers to the physical attractiveness of something - how beautiful it is. Beauty is a characteristic of an idea, animal, object, person or place that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction. Although beauty is perceptual and open to opinion, viewers will find it extremely hard to deny that both artists’ works on display are anything less than beautiful.

Madrid-born artist Maria Torroba focuses on using the Renaissance for inspiration. Renaissance art marks a cultural rebirth at the end of the Middle ages and the rise of the Modern world. One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art is its highly realistic linear perspective. The development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism. Painters then developed other techniques, studying light and shadow, and famously in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, human anatomy. Torroba uses da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’ in her works seen here, thus creating giant collages of women, using the Vitruvian Man as their faces. Torroba uses Spanish and Belgian linens and antique lace embroiled by her grandmother in her collages, along with shells she collects on her travels.  “Frida Tudor” is instantly eye catching as the stunning red used for Frida Kahlo’s dress and lips blaze across the gallery. “Mariana Dark Pink” shows a classically dressed woman holding what is possibly a bag that has been decorated with magazine cut outs of models, giving this mesmerising piece a classic archaic aesthetic with a modern twist. Torroba’s portraits exude elegance and regality, with their bold, rich colours, and the subjects all holding themselves with perfect posture.

Barbara Hoogeweegen is a Dutch artist living in London, working with oil on canvas. Her works are themed around the female psyche and identity. Viewers will have their breath taken away as they enter the upstairs of the gallery where Hoogeweegen’s work is on display. Her oil-painted portraits are objects of pure beauty. Each subject of the paintings is completely different from the last, showing women of all races, ages and styles, yet the series exudes a vibrant and bewitching sense of unity. Many of the paintings contain floral themes, with the women wearing floral headwear against bright, colourful backgrounds. “Eye of the Storm” immediately catches viewers’ eyes as the model’s striking white hair contrasts beautifully against her dark skin from which piercing blue eyes stare straight into the eyes of the viewers. Each and every woman featured in Hoogeweegen’s paintings is not only beautiful, but strong and powerful in their own way, with each canvas overflowing with the confidence of the women inhabiting them. Hoogeweegen’s paintings are carefully orchestrated, and yet also flow freely across the canvas. The various expressions and many pairs of eyes in this series of works create an incredibly intimate relationship between painting and viewer.

“Gorgeous” truly is, as the name suggests, a simply beautiful collection of works. The exhibition is on at Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Conway Street until the 26th May.  More information may be found here.

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