Okanagan’s Mona Lisa in Naramata

Visitors to the Naramata Heritage Inn can get a good idea of what the Mona Lisa would look like had it been produced in the Okanagan.

Penticton artist Yvonne Goldberg stands beside the Oka Lisa – her rendition of the Mona Lisa which took a full year to complete. The painting is currently being enjoyed as the flagship of the 2015 Summer Art Exhibition at the Naramata Heritage Inn.

Visitors to the Naramata Heritage Inn can get a good idea of what the Mona Lisa would look like had it been produced in the Okanagan.

Yvonne Goldberg, the owner of YGO Fine Art Gallery in Penticton, took a year to paint her emulation of Leonardo da Vinci’s most renowned portrait. Her version is called the Oka Lisa, and at 48 inches by 72, spreads more than twice as much area as its archetype.

“I wanted people to appreciate old masters,” Goldberg said. “It’s not supposed to be an exact likeness of Mona Lisa, I modernized it – so like a modern woman, and then I put the Okanagan in the background.”

The Oka Lisa is the cornerstone of the 2015 Summer Art Exhibition at the Naramata Heritage Inn, which features 23 pieces of Goldberg’s work. The exhibit launched on July 14 and can be viewed inside the hotel anytime during the summer.

To mimic the effect that time has had on the 500-year-old Mona Lisa, Goldberg said she manipulated canvas to look distressed and old. She added sanding techniques and coated several layers of paints and glazes to replicate the Renaissance-era.

But there was no aim to make the lady in her portrait identical to the Mona Lisa. Goldberg said some people have told her that the lady looks a little like her, and others have said the portrait looks to be her daughter. And while she agrees that features of her daughter come through in the painting, she said the images produced come out of her feelings.

“When I paint I don’t even want to think about it.”

Instead, Goldberg prefers to try and replicate the reaction the Mona Lisa will have on its viewers.

“I love to bring out the inner essence of the person so you really feel the emotions,” she said. “It’s not just the likeness, I really wanted the soul to come out.”

Goldberg said she been fascinated with da Vinci all throughout her life. She’s been painting all her life, and can remember her first painting – a replication of da Vinci’s self-portrait as a senior. In addition to his painting, she’s enthralled by his genius. While da Vinci’s never been far from her thoughts, Goldberg said the Mona Lisa didn’t always stand out to her.

“It was not for me his most alluring painting,” she said. “But I found it alluring that she wasn’t the prettiest.”

She found the background of the Mona Lisa encapsulating, with the dark and mysterious landscape. In the Oka Lisa, the background offers a very similar ambiance, but the landscape is much more akin to the Okanagan. Goldberg said the landscape isn’t based on any actual viewpoint from the area, but shares the same feeling.

“The motions of the mountains echo the dress,” she said. “da Vinci loved grey, blues and browns – I wanted to get that in, but I’m a turquoise freak.”



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