2017 — Paris, France
Starting with the timeless genre of portrait, Elene Usdin disrupts it by directly painting on the photographic print. And she paints the emotions, hidden behind the calm look of her teenage models. The artist questions a certain idea of photography which defines a photograph by its reproducibility. Her photographs from Les Habitants have become unique pieces : Elene Usdin paints chimerical costumes on her photographed models, in a phantasmagoric dialogue with the history of art (250 hours to illuminate each portrait).
As they are captured at the fragile age of adolescence, that brief but intense passage from childhood to adulthood, girls and boys come to express an inner chaos through their painted ornaments : tiny imaginary characters, witches and demons, overflowing vegetation and carnivorous plants, a disturbing and visionary echo to the inhabited spirits of the teenagers. Although these paintings come with a cultural heritage, which forms and educates us, they metamorphose into a wild adornment for these young people with the emotion and violence the artists of the past have managed to convey with the patience and delicacy of a goldsmith and the fantasy of an awaken dreamer.
Born in 1971, Elene Usdin graduated from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs of Paris in 1996. Working first as an illustrator and a set decorator for cinema, she regularly publishes her illustrations in newspapers and magazines. Visual artist, illustrator and photographer, she develops since 2002 an artistic body of work with precision and lightness and a great delicacy. Women are the favorite subject of her series, with an approach that plays with genre and stereotypes. Elene Usdin does not hesitate to put herself on stage, in self-portraits between derision, tribute to the great female figures of the history or inspiration found in fairy tales.
Rewarded in 2006 by the Picto Prize for Young Fashion Photography and in 2008 by the International Photo Awards, her first monograph, Stories, was published in 2013 by editions Contrejour. In 2014, the Museum of New Art in Detroit showed a large retrospective exhibition of her work: Awake While I Am Dreaming. Her latest series, Les Habitants, combines portraits of teenagers and homage to the great masters of painting resulting in unique and spectacular painted photographs.