Monday, 30 April 2012

Photographer/Artist: Oleg Dou

I have seen Oleg's work before but have often felt indifferent to them on a poetic level. I found them beautifully photographed but was unsure of them on any other underlying level. However, I recently visited his site and noticed written phrases accompanying his collections. Immediately, a love developed for his work. The written word is such a powerful tool, that it can completely affect the reaction to an artwork. It's a real struggle for an artist to know how much to reveal to the audience and I have often wondered how much I have sabotaged my work by simply giving it a title. When in group at the 'Strategies' Symposium, a fellow student randomly questioned whether titling a work as 'Untitled' was a cop out? Titling a work certainly gives a piece a different sense of identity than if it was called 'Untitled' but is either method a good vs. bad scenario? The work should speak for itself and perhaps have no real need for a title. Also, a title can give the work a narrative, which may complicate the issue the work is presenting. I've often titled my work because there was always an overwhelming need, I had to express myself through written word in addition to visual art. However, simply from reflecting on the students innocent question, I've become comfortable with the idea of labelling a work 'untitled'. 

In Oleg's collection, 'Toy Story', portraits of children in masks and head-wear are accompanied by the phrase, "WE ALL PLAY THE GOOD GUYS AS KIDS, BUT FAR FROM ALL OF US GROW UP TO BE GOOD, UPSTANDING PEOPLE". With such a powerful message in the form of written word, it immediately made the photos easily understandable. I didn't feel that this made the work "easy" to read, it just made it more identifiable and gave the artist more of a 'face' in the work. It made me want to know what else he's produced, what are his other points of view and why does he choose to work this way. It may have only produced more questions but I don't feel that is a negative point.

Recently engaging in written word incorporation, I enjoyed finding this connection in a successful contemporary artist's work. 

Cheburashka 2. 2011 - Help Japan

180×180cm C-print under Diasec. Edition of 6+2AP

Bambi. 2008

120×120cm/180×180cm C-print under Diasec. Edition of 6+2AP

Batman. 2008

120×120cm/180×180cm C-print under Diasec. Edition of 6+2AP

In the first piece, the youngest child looks like she's been photographed as part of a commission from parents who wish to have photos of their child in certain 'cutsie' type poses. However, as the collection gets older in terms of subjects' ages, the white in the skin looks like porcelain, which is giving them a less humanising image and a more art objectivity.  

After researching more about Oleg Dou and his reason for pursuing these eclectic and bizarre portraits, I found this in his recent artist statement:
"I have been creating different designs for many years. And I started photography in 2005 to mix it with design. 
The “Naked Faces” project is devoted to relationship between human’s inner world with human’s behaviour in society. The society still restricts behaviour and thought of a human being. 

This project is a kind of a protest that is to show that a person should remain who he is and that people should perceive him in the way he is. The persons presented in my works lack individuality: the eyebrows and the eyelashes are removed, the skin is smoothed. " - Oleg Dou

I couldn't believe how similar this concept was to my "Reflection of Self and Societal Image" portraits (Exhibited at Art Of Norwich 21, Church of Art, March 2012) and my other affiliated works. I now feel a bit more comfortable and less scared about what I've produced and decided to display for Degree Show!

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