Olga Ityguilova’s “Hidden World” at Loo & Lou Gallery

It is with the powerful series “Hidden World” that photographer Olga Ityguilova makes her first entrance to the Loo & Lou gallery (in her branch located on Avenue Georges V), and this first exhibition reveals to everyone the visual and spiritual strength of a hypnotic work, at the very least.

We enter the exhibition as we enter into contemplation. The darkness first, the silence of the night: the entire space is plunged into shadows, and black walls emerge from the photographs, illuminated by a subtle white light, like so many meditative invitations.

Olga Ityguilova grew up in Siberia, near Lake Baikal, and has always been in contact with nature, an untamed, sometimes wild nature, a nature she used to fly over in the summer by helicopter with her veterinary parents. It is this nature that the artist puts at the heart of his work, and it is this same nature that we find in the fifteen or so photographs on display and that composes these “hidden worlds”, enigmatic landscapes where the omnipresent water imposes itself with strength, purity, softness sometimes, violence often, and always a bewitching beauty.

Olga Ityguilova’s photographs are polymorphic. Most of the time in black and white, some seem to have been made with graphite, we sometimes even have the impression of perceiving the grain of the paper. Considering photography as a pictorial surface, the artist transforms the observed nature into a phantasmagorical composition. One cannot help but think of Paul Claudel’s famous words: “Pictorial invention or literary phantasmagoria make it possible to bear the sorry reality by providing magical compensation”. If she does not retouch her photographs, Olga Ityguilova always applies the same set of mirrors to them: from an axis, she produces a cut and duplicates the image in vertical symmetry, in the jubilant attitude of the child who reproduces a stain through impression. Two inverted images thus respond to each other in the photograph, and in the centre, the collision. From this systematic ritual comes a ghostly image. From this duplicated nature arise supernatural creatures, which incarnate in our minds. This simple mirror game is the punctum of which Roland Barthes speaks in La chambre claire (1), the detail that disturbs the studium, upsets the field, and makes photography so captivating: it becomes a work of art!

Siberia is a land of shamanism. “I come from a country where the parallel world of spirits is familiar to us. We live with it, it’s normal life,” says Olga Ityguilova. And it is precisely this “animated” nature that the artist subtly proposes to us. All we have to do is change our point of view, apply a mirror effect, and nature lets us glimpse apparitions that are sure to strike our minds. Then images appear, we discern shapes, sometimes we think we identify them: here an eagle, there a mysterious face… These shapes crystallize our attention, until the nature that composes them disappears: the illusion imposes itself as reality, the magic of which Paul Claudel speaks operates. And this illusion, this perceived form, this ghostly image, speaks to our soul, even transports it, in a kind of shamanic journey (2). This nature where water abounds and spirits abound is a catalyst for meditation, an initiator of spiritual journey. One does not emerge insensitive from Olga Ityguilova’s exhibition.


The soul must run

Like clear water;

The soul must run,

To love! And die.

Marceline DESBORDES-VALMORE, from “La Sincère”


Grégoire Prangé
1- Roland Barthes, La chambre claire : note sur la photographie, 1980.
2- In shamanism, the soul, or at least the perceptive part, of man has the faculty to leave the body, it is the journey of the soul. It can be controlled (by shamans) but most of the time it is caused by an external factor.

Featured image: Olga Ityguilova, Budha, digital print, 43.5 x 58 cm, 2015. Courtesy Loo & Lou Gallery, Paris.

FROM 24/02/2016 TO 02/04/2016
75,008 PARIS
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