December 1, 2023

Ewa Juszkiewicz was watching a portrait of Katarzyna Starzenska, a Polish aristocrat and social fixture, accomplished in 1804.

“She had many romances,” Ms. Juszkiewicz mentioned. “She was partying loads. She was principally an influencer.”

“Different ladies all needed to decorate like her,” she mentioned.

The small portray by François Gérard, which presents Starzenska in a black gown and purple scarf, was displayed at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, a museum that was as soon as the house of Polish monarchs.

“I believe her black gown is velvet,” Ms. Juszkiewicz mentioned. “The purple scarf — in all probability cashmere? Cashmere had change into in style at the moment.”

Ms. Juszkiewicz, 39, a surrealist painter, had come to the museum on a morning in late September to get one other take a look at the likeness of Starzenska, whose life Ms. Juszkiewicz had studied earlier than portray her personal model of the portrait, although not precisely.

At nearly 10 toes tall, Ms. Juszkiewicz’s model is way bigger than the unique. And in it, Starzenska’s head is wrapped fully in white, black and purple materials, with a sprig of leaves protruding of the highest.

The piece, “In a Shady Valley, Close to a Operating Water (after François Gérard),” is one in every of 9 new oil work by Ms. Juszkiewicz in a solo exhibition opening on Nov. 3 on the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, Calif. Most are re-creations of particular work of girls from the 18th and nineteenth centuries.

Whereas Ms. Juszkiewicz has faithfully reproduced many facets of the older work, together with their topics’ garments, she has obscured the faces of the ladies in her portraits. Some seem swathed in materials, whereas others are coated by vegetation or phantasmagoric hairdos which might be impressed by the flowery hairstyles and wigs worn within the eras when her supply materials was initially produced.

The work Ms. Juszkiewicz is exhibiting at Gagosian are a part of a collection of portraits she has made. Some, like “Ginger Locks” (2021), which reveals a girl in a teal gown with a Gordian-knot-like mass of copper hair masking her face, usually are not based mostly on particular work.

In October, Louis Vuitton started selling a $10,500 bag bearing a print of “Ginger Locks.” The unique portray was purchased by the Institute of Up to date Artwork, Miami. (Louis Vuitton declined to supply the phrases of its contract with Ms. Juszkiewicz for the bag.)

Ms. Juszkiewicz mentioned her method is supposed to intensify what she referred to as “the absurdity” of interval portraiture of girls, notably the way in which during which feminine topics have been usually depicted with comparable options, like well mannered eyes, pink cheeks, porcelain complexions and excellent coifs.

Ms. Juszkiewicz described these options as a form of “masks” that introduced uniformity, not individuality, to interval portraits. She mentioned that by masking the heads of topics in her work with textiles and hair — or typically with fungi, fruit or bugs — she is asking viewers to think about ladies as people and as greater than fairly faces.

Derek Blasberg, 41, the manager editor of Gagosian Quarterly, {a magazine} revealed by the gallery, mentioned Ms. Juszkiewicz’s work are “saturated in fashion.” Their house owners embrace Giancarlo Giametti, a founding father of Valentino.

Mr. Blasberg, an everyday at vogue occasions, in contrast her portraits to different stylized historic reinterpretations, like Sofia Coppola’s movie “Marie Antoinette” and the Netflix collection “Bridgerton.”

“They’re each form of celebrating and likewise critiquing that period and undoubtedly that second in vogue,” he mentioned of Ms. Juszkiewicz’s work and of “Bridgerton.”

Ms. Juszkiewicz mentioned her work has required her to review vogue throughout intervals of time. Often, she has included modern clothes and accessories into work, like a pair of goldtone hoop earrings that she purchased secondhand.

In her studio in Warsaw, she makes use of reference supplies together with a 100-year-old copy of “The Historical past of French Ladies’s Costume: Fashions of the Center Ages,” the catalog from the Brooklyn Museum’s 2014 exhibit “Killer Heels: The Artwork of the Excessive-Heeled Shoe,” and books on Frida Kahlo, Annie Leibovitz and Cindy Sherman.

Ms. Juszkiewicz additionally research the runway. “I take a look at particulars,” she mentioned. “The materials, their textures, the silhouettes.” A pink dress embellished with a flowing purple ribbon from Simone Rocha’s spring 2024 assortment lately caught her eye, as did the inverted tulle gowns from Viktor & Rolf’s couture present in January.

She additionally cited the designers Alexander McQueen, Iris van Herpen and Rei Kawakubo as inspirations, all of whom, Ms. Juszkiewicz mentioned, had a knack for “deconstructing classics.”

Two of Ms. Kawakubo’s attire for a current Comme des Garçons assortment, she famous, have been made with cloth printed with interval portraits of girls and ladies, together with “Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue,” a portray by the Dutch artist Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck. That work was the idea for Ms. Juszkiewicz’s 2013 portray “Girl in Blue,” during which she hid the younger feminine topic’s face behind a cluster of grayish mushrooms.

Ms. Juszkiewicz mentioned that as a younger woman she felt certain she would change into a painter. She was born in Gdansk, Poland, a metropolis about 4 hours by automobile from Warsaw, and has a grasp’s diploma in portray from the Academy of Nice Arts in Gdansk, in addition to a Ph.D. in portray from the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow.

Whereas pursuing her doctorate she grew to become fascinated by the profession of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, a French portrait artist within the 1700s and 1800s who was the official court painter for Marie Antoinette.

As a feminine artist in a area then dominated by males, Vigée Le Brun was removed from the norm, Ms. Juszkiewicz mentioned, including that her portraits, which principally featured ladies, confirmed their topics’ personalities by means of facial expressions in addition to garments and equipment.

A self-portrait of Vigée Le Brun, which reveals the artist holding paint brushes and a palette dotted with paints, impressed what would change into the primary portrait, in 2012, in Ms. Juszkiewicz’s collection of work based mostly on earlier works.

That portray, “Straw Hat (after Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun),” reveals Vigée Le Brun along with her face changed by two sections of hair divided by a scarlike half. Final yr, it bought at public sale for about $1 million. (The Gagosian Gallery wouldn’t present costs for the present present.)

“I knew I’d begun one thing,” mentioned Ms. Juszkiewicz, who has since produced about 70 work for the collection.

The writer Regan Penaluna used one in every of her items on the duvet of her current e-book, “How to Think Like a Woman,” about feminine philosophers. The portrait, “Untitled (after Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun),” reveals a girl whose head is enveloped in a luxurious cloth. She is sporting a white gown with a blue bow on the waist and is sitting on an opulent couch with an open e-book.

Ms. Penaluna mentioned she selected the portray partly as a result of she thought among the philosophers featured in her e-book would have appreciated what she referred to as “the large thriller” inherent in Ms. Juszkiewicz’s portraits.

She described that thriller this fashion: “What’s a girl when she is not offered to us as an object of magnificence?”

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