Project „European Women in Portrait“
100 Years – 100 european women
The project idea
In the next few years many European countries will have their 100th anniversary of women’s universal voting right. What has changed since? Which progress has been made? Where is still much effort needed? Which contribution did women make to societal development?
100 contemporary women who have made an imprint with their efforts and their lives will represent this. They will be honored and celebrated with life size portraits. We do not mean to evaluate the final outcome of their deeds, but rather want to highlight the opportunities they have taken in order to transform society.
Women play a by far larger role for change processes than is attributed to them in the public debate. The exhibition tour of ‘European Women in Portrait’ wants to change this. The tour is meant to start in 2018 in Germany and Austria.
In Europe, the fine arts have a centuries old tradition in the representation of the human figure and have therefore a very special affinity with portraits.
At the start, mostly commissioned by the church and the secular rulers, the depiction of men was one of the divine representation in a figure. In the beginnings of painting the artistic skills, the ability to create abstraction and to interpret, mirrored the state of the cultural development of the époque.
In the renaissance, a revolution occurred. Next to the traditional patrons of the arts, the wealthy bourgeois started commissioning paintings. The transience of the individual personal face of man was suddenly snatched. Instead, the personal well-being became analyzed and documented. This helped to create the self-consciousness of a much larger group of population than before.
All this, for the first time in history of European culture, has become the task of fine arts. Consecutively, the ‘gestaltete Figur’ (the ’represented figure’) has been re-invented again and again. Its localization in space, in light and in perspective was repeatedly newly defined and analyzed. The motivation behind this was the desire to pass on messages to future generations, to deeply search for meaning and to truly communicate despite all errors and finiteness.
Each artist tried to find the ultimate expression, the ultimate form of his time. Obviously, there were interdependencies and connections with the then existing state of the arts in science and in politics. In this network of social connections art has been and still is today a message transmitter.
Painting, and in particular portrait painting, is a seismograph of well-being. This allowed creating a unique archive in Europe, which exposes the state of mental and emotional perception of people in their era. Art is hence also an archive of emotionality. She is the expression of the effort to communicate at different levels. A communication which has ethic values as its foundation.
Each individual person, each individual story is important. Each life story is the basis for a societal future. Each portrait shows the struggle for selfrealization, power, recognition and self-esteem.
Europa is the woman to which our continent owes its name. The painter ANTOINETTE dedicates her work to the portraits of European women. A ‘female ancestral portrait gallery’ of European women, who shape an emancipated society, take responsibilities and successfully execute power.
This encompassing series of life-size portraits wants to celebrate this historical relevant and globally special event. It displays an incredible diversity of female life conceptions, with all its traces of gained victories and suffered defeats visible. The authenticity of the portrayed personalities transports also the non-ideal typical and non -conform characteristics. It shows the long road between the ideal of womanhood and realized womanhood. The tension between ideal norms set by society and the necessary adaptation to match private happiness and professional success, to compromise between family and society, shows in each portrait. The portraits are an expression of these female efforts.
Their faces full of charisma, emotionality, and true beauty become eternal and visual in these women’s portraits. They express the self-consciousness and the self-determination, the courage to expose themselves, to take responsibility, to have power and to be vulnerable. They are fragile and sensitive, as well as strong and non-conform.
Most of them sit inconspicuously in the same pose, but at the same time each portrait tells a very different story. The format of the pictures, the life size presentation of the exposed women, makes them present. The big number of paintings, at least 100, accentuates this and allows relations among them to develop: a network, a wonderful European idea of feminism. It offers a wonderful possibility to orient oneself along this large amount of idols. This creates identification with a Europe which has female characteristics: loving, tolerant, sharing, caring, unselfish, generous, versatile, fair, close to nature, protecting, preserving, creative, beautiful, supportive, and integrative and so forth. This vision of Europe, is at the moment t h e chance for the world, to change its direction and to find a different way of dealing with each other. Europe only works in cooperation with each other.
In the planned exhibition women from diverse European countries will be exposed together. They will come to know each other and will experience joint inspiration. They will accentuate their mutual perception and the effect that this has. They will become more aware of their diversity. They will recognize each other or despise of each other. In any case they will be in relation to each other. And they will attract attention. They will be celebrated.
This collection of portraits is meant to become a historic document, a container of female possibilities and perfection. It explicitly refers to traditional European portrait painting, from which women, as painters, have been largely excluded for centuries. A big arc spans from the identity of Europe and the identity of European women.
The painter ANTOINETTE is a representative of the „Leipziger School“. Her pictures and her visual expression are in the tradition of her teachers Heisig, Mattheuer und Tübke. Her education as a portrait painter by her master father Bernhard Heisig (whose portrait of Helmut Schmidt is exposed in the Federal Chancellor’s Office in Berlin) are the basis for several encompassing portrait series, accomplished by her in the last years. These include ‘Berliner Sittengemälde’ a social portrait of Berlin’s citizens across all social and moral layers, which was exposed in Berlin in 2013, and then in Washington D.C. and in New York with great success.
With this, ANTOINETTE belongs to today’s most known portrait painters. The pictures of ANTOINETTE move, polarize, make concerned, are because of their figurativeness concrete, tell stories and create unusual perspectives. This makes them the ideal start for a social discussion of European identity and the future of society on our continent. The scenes and stories are on purpose not told till the end. They leave room for interpretation, for an individual perspective on the everyday topics and on the big topics of our époque.
ANTOINETTE provides her inner pictures, which can be interpreted as reflections and feedbacks to the situation of our society. Mythological elements span the arc back to the origins of our joint roots on this continent Europe. She takes up the traditions of European painting, in order to point also at this story of history: art as the communication across generations, language barriers and country borders.