Jacqueline Spencer-Macleod describes herself as a portraitist of the Sublime Femme. Spencer-Macleod is an Artist whose central concerns are female figuration, portraiture in national identity and belonging, the collective and individual strength, through empowerment and representation of the New Zealand Feminine. Individual and collective empowerment for women is her motivation. Through fresh re-interpretation of what constitutes the femme, Macleod highlights the tension and disparity between the failed, imagined ideals of historic femininity and what is presently real.
The imagery within the paintings explore the essence of the New Zealand femme, the pioneering New Zealand Feminine identity; beginning with a contemporary photographic ‘sitting’ then through intensive personal research, Macleod represents her sitter as ‘Femme de Force’.
This constitutes the sitters life lived; using genealogical symbolism, present tensions, a personalised palette/Aura and a strength and spirit reflected in the pose with the gaze met head-on. The processes and materials used consist of a transparent gesso; quick painted drawing in of the figure and background compositional structures. Oil on raw reverse stretched Belgian Linen - painted gesturally at first, then moves in a more considered slower way, utilizing light, form and shadow, resonance and strength; refining and building the emotional surface of the linen.
Exhibition ran 24 Feb - 15 March 2022
“Portraiture is personal, a connective experience. It’s not a passive thing. When you see a portrait painting, it’s like intimately meeting another person. My vision is to paint the essence of the woman; the presence of her strength that is particular to her. A complex, psychologically, physically conceptualised, reconfigured woman; who becomes a performative, painted vision Macleod sees in the individual- that they may not see in themselves. … I want the viewer to feel familiar but challenged within the final representation, constantly finding fresh interpretations that surprise, resulting in an explicitly unique New Zealand ‘Femme de Force’.”
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