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The young ladies in these portraits could easily be real-life celebrities but are in fact imaginary ones, archetypal figures originating in the artist’s vision and created by the expressive volume of the faces heightened by “photographic painting.” It is as if the artist, in reflecting on “the very essence of life,” had decided to produce a pictorial representation of it by the accumulation of small touches—since it is impossible to create a living creature from scratch. This new series comes across as a series of contemporary pictures, made in the digital age. It reframes the recurring question of the relations between photography and painting, figuration and abstraction, and reality and fiction.

Exhibition produced in collaboration with Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris.
Publication: Painted Ladies, photographs by Valérie Belin, text by Éric Reinhardt, Éditions Xavier Barral, 2019.
Prints by Picto, Paris.
Framing by Cadre en Seine, Paris.

Valérie Belin is nominated for the Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro Arles 2019.