A Display of Faceless Portraits in Venice

Kin Woo at The New York Times: For over a decade now, the Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz has been recreating portraits of women by painters from the Renaissance era to the 19th century, with one significant intervention: She variously obscures the sitters’ faces with fabric, hairstyles and extravagant arrangements of flowers and foliage. The artist’s subversive approach arose from a desire to disrupt an “idealization of the female image,” she says.

Juszkiewicz’s work draws from wide-ranging sources, including the fashions of the Middle Ages and those by contemporary designers like Simone Rocha and Rei Kawakubo. The painter then gathers an assortment of wigs, textiles and old jewelry, builds installations and employs models to serve as references. She paints in a classical European style, using layers of oil paints.

The 15 pieces in her new show, “Locks with Leaves and Swelling Buds,” opening at the Palazzo Cavanis in Venice, reimagine works by 18th-century painters like Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and François Gérard. “I want to challenge existing canons and build my own story based on them,” she says. “Ewa Juszkiewicz: Locks with Leaves and Swelling Buds” is on view at Palazzo Cavanis, Venice, from April 20 through Sept. 1, fabarte.org.