Portrait of an Artist
Spanish Artist Betsy Westendorp has established herself as a respected practitioner amongst the Filipino art world with a career that spans over 40 years. Born in Spain and with Dutch ancestry, she has lived in between Spain and the Philippines since 1951. A poetic and expressive painter, Westendorp is well known for her portraits of prominent European and Filipino political and society figures as well as her romantic landscapes and depictions of exotic flowers. Through her constant pursuit of beauty her work captures the dignity of the human spirit as well as emotions of awe and longing through a connection with time and place. However, her popularity as a portrait artist has often obscured a wider conversation around her current concerns as an artist. ‘Portrait of Artist: Betsy Westendorp’ addresses this by presenting a highly personal conversation about her work through new and existing works that predominantly consists of Westendorp’s emotive skyscapes.
For many years now, Westendorp has been obsessively turning to the heavens to capture the colours and movements of skies, clouds, sunsets and sunrises. Although this work is part of the artist’s interest in landscape they represent a more subtle psychological entry point into Westendorp’s own personality. These passionate vistas or imagined mindscapes have often been inspired by her beloved Manila Bay that her previous home overlooked. However, rather than just straight forward depiction these representations also convey states of contemplation and reflection not only on her physical surroundings but Westendorp’s feelings of anxiety and happiness to become a type of alternative self portraiture.
Comprising of new and existing work the Main Gallery becomes a space for meditation not only the life of Betsy Westendorp but also a point of departure for universal human contemplation on our relationships to Nature and search for the sublime qualities of life. However, Westendorp’s portraits will also appear in the exhibition in The Upstairs Gallery in the form of small works from the artist’s private collection as well as photographic documentation of her iconic commission works. By presenting these two sides of her practice audiences are allowed to compare and contrast her work as a painter of others and as an individual artist exploring formal beauty and her own human emotions.
A catalogue on the exhibition will also be available with an introduction by Valentine Willie, Director of Manila Contemporary and Valentine Willie Fine Art as well as an essay by Art Critic Cid Reyes. In addition, Arch. Ramon R. Antonio has designed a bespoke room as part of the exhibition, for audiences to see how collectors ‘live’ with Betsy’s art.