The Narcissus Effect

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Occasionally, in moments of grace, painting becomes incantation. In such a favored moment, the lavish spectacle of color gamut, hues, tint drawings, semitones and fine writing may reveal an alternative world which is no longer in propriety of the art of painting. In privileged instants of the like, the figurative idiom is pervaded by some unfamiliar languages, pulsing to fit different rhythms, and ruffled by unknown effluvia. The paintings of Barbara pave the way towards such an adventure, in an imaginary realm of eerie beauty. Separated from us by sumptuous frames, spectacular artistry in themselves, unsettling characters show up in ceremony and banquet halls, with the slow motion of sepulchral butterflies. They seem to emerge from the innermost depths of the waters that once were reflecting Narcissus, the magic water which dissolved the mortal self to preserve just the mirror–face. A similar fate seems to bond also the personages depicted by Barbara: they are also enchanted by their own splendor, sparse in their own airiness; they are approaching us from the dreamy world, displaying their mirror-face, so that we could recognize our own self in them. Thus, the faces become fairy tales with a meaning enciphered in the drawing calligraphy, in the comeliness of gestures, in the ambiguity of expressions. Perhaps this is why the figures that Barbara is depicting bear that particular melancholic gaze which is so characteristic of the “fin de siècle” zeitgeist, that peculiar aristocratic abandonment which may be just at times gracefully veiled by the shade of a smile. Nightly glimpses and overwhelming gestures, shrouded in silk, velvet and lace, add further value to the transparent skins. Their paleness reads living behind joyous exhilaration of the world of appearances that we day after day inhabit. Nothing can trouble the deep waters of these paintings; no face renders the pathos of joy or grief, inquietude and lust. Their energy in its entirety is mesmerizingly concentrated in the eye. These pairs of eyes, resembling in depth with a well, apparently tell us that long ago they witnessed something essential. The characters depicted by Barbara emanate the tranquility of those who saw, therefore they know. They come to us clad with the robe of the unspeakable. How come they are so silent? Why do they exhibit a ghost-like visage, why do they decide not to cross over the waters of nocturnal mirrors, beyond sensible chromatic range and sound vibrations? How come their voice is still mute and don’t speak out the truth that has been bestowed to them? There is impenetrable silence around and inside them, which echoes the silent sorrow of Eurydice and the self-indulgent ecstatic look of Narcissus the Beautiful.
Come back, Laizza, and bring along all tales of the world! Returned be thee, vulnerable womanliness, come back, melancholic and involuntary sensuality, bounce over the stone lips of the precious frames, indent their stucco and vivify them with the waters of the night, and bring back with you the Golden Boy, and Rita Levi, and the bloodless Queen Margot, and carry the Afghan Girl away from the remaining ashes of the camp fire. Pay your toll to Narcissus, and share with us what it was that you saw and know, for who knows, we will once comprehend the borders that separate our worlds.

Then we will more profoundly understand the poetics of the framing threshold, waves and resonances, exiles up to the boundaries of dimming realms or the secret of the appointments that work wonders. Perhaps we will then understand the tale of a world which hasn’t been appropriated to us yet, seen through the transparency of a face that has never been ours.

Ramona Novicov

baroque effect or the theatre from dreams

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”Just like a fruit, joining honey and darkness”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Judged with our today aesthetic sensitivity, the mere uttering of this word: „baroque”, stirs huge and frothy waves and troubles our cultural memory to its core. This is precisely what Barbara’s imagery is also able to do, in a very personal way, by lightly touching the subtle keys of incantations or those of suavity or those of the flows of shading. Intense characters, descending from twilight lands, play with their evanescent traces and weave their own secret stories. Light as a breeze, moving like a memory, vibrant like the flight of the night butterflies, each of these characters emerge from a flamboyant imaginarium, translucent like lace, yet heavy like brocade. They don’t just come to light; they do so in a way that captures our attention and imagination and we are drawn to find the reason why they are staging their appearance in such an enigmatic way. With their weightless bodies, they are creatures that dream of or dream themselves on the stage of a private theatre, in a Venetian palazzo or in a Central European castle. They come from the lineage evoked by Hugo von Hofmannsthal or Rilke, as they look more like silvery images, magic, one of a kind, brought to the world by the spells of Daguerre. Their appearance is carefully prepared, longed for and long awaited. They will come, one by one, in the spotlight, performing on the stage of a fictitious theatre such as only love or wars can create. Barbara brings us closer to these creatures, so close that we can hear them whispering, and smell their scent of grass and wind. And loneliness.

Who are they? They are ”just like a fruit, joining honey and darkness”, lonely creatures who have lost themselves once, wandering on the paths of their own memory or longing for lost loves. They are twilight blooms, closing their petals when the sun goes down, but opening up on the other side of the night, under the spectral light of the Dream Theatre. They press the baroque whirlwind of our daily existence into the ashes of their forgotten lives. They make themselves desirable once again and set out in a new imaginary adventure. Through the strokes of her brushes, Barbara releases them from an amorphous collective memory and offers them a new realm, a new freedom. This new haven is our own presence and perception, the sensitivity that enables us to communicate with these unfaithful creatures (ever ready to vanish) just one moment before they tell us the magic words – “The dawn is drawing near, I must take my leave”.

But the evanescence of their infidelity sets them free. The smoky fabric cuts them loose from their own bodies and desires. The waiting also sets them free, as it instils into them the other’s awaiting – whether it’s another person or another realm. They leave behind the flavour of a precious spirit, separated from any body that may have been possessed.

Barbara’s art creates a bridge between Caravaggio’s Rome, Vermeer’s Delft, Tiepolo’s Venice and Klimt’s Vienna. It’s inspired from the theatrical performances, with creatures of the night mirroring the abyss.

A theatre of spectral figures, whose beauty has a special princely mark – the tiara, la ferronnière, both symbol and substitute for the crown of grace and fulfilment, for the reconstruction of the perfect circle of the paradise lost. Maybe this is the best starting point on the way paved by Barbara’s paintings, reading and deciphering her speech about the mystery of love and death, dissolved into charming histrionics.

Ramona Novicov

the past is the new future

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”I adore that pink…it’s the navy blue of India!”
Diana Vreeland

Following a puzzling logic, namely Shoot at a pigeon and kill a… well, you’ll see, the images from “The Butterfly Effect” series bring new characters from Barbara’s Panopticum to the center of the stage. Why these in particular and no others? We don’t know for sure, for they are unique entities, autonomous, nomadic, operating under the laws of a hidden system of communicating vessels. Because, increasingly, her painting finds its place somewhere between incantation and divination. "Would you like to understand the meaning of the future? If so, paint the past!", the painter seems to say. But paint it the way a shaman meditates, or choose a past that is not yours, choose one belonging to somebody else and turn it into a canvas onto which anyone could project him or herself. Only then we would be able to decipher it, in hindsight or in ricochet, looking at the others, making some sense of what we are being subjected to, through substitution, empathy, techniques of non-possession - drifting away from our own subjectivity. Otherwise, between cause and effect there’s no connection any longer, and nothing matches anything anymore.Just like their predecessors, the characters that inhabit this entire cycle have encoded identities, troubled, ambiguous and reversible, but they are willing to turn their gaze upon us. Descending from a Pre-Raphaelite world, their eyes tell us with fervor and melancholy that we can move beyond the convention of the frame - if we are willing to. At this point, we must say that the frame also is part of the picture. It is not just the curtain that marks the threshold between “them” and “us”, between “now” and “later”, shielding these transient, almost absent figures. The frame is a character in itself, approached with due care. Beyond it, in the interstices, you can sometimes see the glimmer of disaster. But the painting technique polishes them neatly: the colors show their extremely delicate transparencies, while shades and shadows create a sophisticated counterpoint. The characters’ faces are even more translucent, pearlescent, like fine porcelain.
Their presence is more evanescent and illusory. “Unconventional” garments, jewelry, flowers and pets amplify the spectacular expressiveness of the faces. While their mouths keep stories untold, their eyes shout the same stories loud
and clear.

The image is a door swinging in its hinges: everything is there, on both sides, but our presence is requested in order to set the wings in motion, to create the shock wave that will sometime cause unexpected things to happen elsewhere.
This is particularly beautiful about Barbara's painting: the fact that we are needed to take the image away with us, to leave it behind in muteness or to steer its course, to throw a stone at her translucent mirror, to generate the ripple effect, to get it to tell her untold story before the final station, which is the actual painting.

But the same painting can tell different stories, depending on the identity of the viewer. Above all these characters, like a veil, there is a hovering shadow of the feelings that once forged their destiny. There might be love affairs, expectations maybe, giddy dreams, failures, cancelled flights. Ashes from all these intense combustions seem to be the pigment used by Barbara to retell the story of her translucent characters. For these apparitions, life has elsewhere consumed itself: something essential has just happened, something essential has been delayed, no-one knows for how long... But for us, those who are looking at them, they are mediums, like Tarot cards, because they are there to tell us, when the right time comes, our own tale.

Ramona Novicov

coming soon

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Barbara Hangan’s historical characters and their history

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Summoned from all the corners of the world, lightly sketched or lovingly wrought, bittersweet or dreamy, defeated or victorious, the characters of Barbara's world have depth and spirit. Once in the artist's dreamworld, they transcend their flat existence, gracefully moving and moving us too, burning with a desire to tell us their stories.Any of Barbara Hangan's paintings is not just a wall decoration, not just a jewel in a room, but also an invitation to confession – for both the character in the painting and its beholder.
That's why you can't get enough of sharing the room with one – or more - of her men and women. Quite contrary, you may end up in a real circle of such dreamworld creatures, with whom you can effortlessly travel across ages, places and states of mind, in a never-ending journey.With a subtle use of color, which only adds to the constant balance between modern and historic, and highlights the feelings and emotions of the characters, Barbara Hangan is able to draw us into the universe of her paintings, which are able to redefine any room and space, and turn it into a place of meditation.

They are true works of art, on which the artist holds full ownership, as the canvases and boards are surrounded by graceful or opulent, vintage frames, brought back to life by Barbara. The frames themselves become another way to give context, substance and add to the history of the characters and to their spirit.

Sorana Savu

  • Northern wind
  • Raven
  • Afghanistan
  • Carmina
  • The bride with a  black head-dress
  • The 99th aniversary
  • Landscape
  • The child who will rule the world
  • Zulù
  • Tara
  • Lara
  • The blue dress
  • Come back Laizza
  • Little balerina
  • Izabella
  • A midwinter night’s dream
  • The old man of the citadel
  • The girl from the desert
  • Ollantayambo
  • Afghana
  • Alisia
  • Pilgrim
  • Rita Levi
  • Fermina Dazza
  • Cabaret
  • Mima
  • Wedding in the sky
  • Girl in a carriage
  • Ibara
  • The Night before the Night
  • Zara The Unfaithful
  • Torero
  • Hope for the great dream
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • Besame Mucho
  • Maya The Unfaithful
  • Javier Mon Amour
  • Adriana's Great Journey  with the Bird
  • Leyla Rose
  • Barock
  • Lisa Melisa
  • Frederic (Longing for Countess Wodzinska)
  • The Dawn is Drawing near,  I must Take my Leave
  • The Girl who Went to Find Herself in Buenos Aires
  • Medusa
  • Nueva Fidelidad
  • A Dios le pido
  • I Kept on Playing  Waiting Here for You
  • ALLEZ FRANCE
  • PICTURE ME UPON YOUR KNEES
  • CERESIA
  • THE GIRL IN THE PAINTER'S GARDEN
  • HEAVEN STOOD STILL
  •  GONNA TAKE HER ON A RIDE WITH THE BIG JET
  •  TRACING STORIES
  • ANASTASIA
  • MORENA
  • THE GAMBLER
  • TRASH THE DRESS
  • SCENT OF GREEN GRASS AND WIND
  • THIRTY SEVEN
  • SHOW ME PICTURES IN A GALLERY
  • GUERLAIN CALLED HIS FRAGRANCE 'VOILA POURQOI J'AIME ROSINE'
  • EVENING BALL IN THE OVAL HALL
  • THE TEMPTATION OF JUDITH
  • SURI
  • GINGER GREIGE, NEVER CAME BACK FROM COPACABANA
  • THE CURIOUS TALE OF THE FLOWER VASE
  • CORTO MALTESE
  • ZACHARY, THE BOY WHO FED ON FLOWERS
  • PAN
  • SEVEN
  • THE PINK DRESS
  • RUBY
  • Anaïs
  • THE OTHER PEARL EARRING
  • THE OTHER GIRL THAT LEFT
  • PINK FADO
  • LAGRIMAS NEGRAS
  • You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille...
  • PINK FADO
  • M.M. JANE
  • LOOKING OUT FOR LOVE
  • KADORA
  • DEJA BLUE
  • HALLELUJAH
  • Elena
  • The unknown courtesan
  • Bella Aquarella
  • Mathilda
  • Burgund Red
  • Saudade
  • 1911
  • Iordana Iordanov
  • October
  • Suzanne
  • 1832
  • Anna Linn
  • Of Love and Shadows

Born: November 1st 1974, Cluj, Romania

Education:

1989-1993 “Romulus Ladea” High School Cluj
1993-1999 BA “Ioan Andreescu University of Art and Design” Cluj
Member of Romanian Artists Union since 1999

Personal Shows:

1997 Burg Rode, Herzogenrath, Germany
1998 Aachen, Germany
1999 The Old Gallery, Cluj, Romania
1999 Flag Painting, Cluj, Romania
2000 Terzoatto, Cluj, Romania
2001 German Cultural Institute, Cluj, Romania
2003 National Museum of Art, Cluj, Romania
2005 Vevey, Switzerland
2005 Venice, Italy
2006 Allianz Gallery, Bucharest, Romania
2007 Venice, Italy
2009 Arhipelag Gallery , Cluj, Romania
2010 Rome, Italy
2010 Carol Parc Hotel, Bucharest, Romania

barbara@barbarahangan.ro