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Oleg Dou « Cubs »

22nd February - 9th April 2011
RTR gallery, Paris

For his fifth exhibition at RTR gallery, Oleg Dou presents a new series « Cubs ». For the first time, the artist abandons the square format and the zoom on faces, takes one step back and photographs his models from three quarters. In his series « Sketches » and « Toys Story », he has already represented children, little men of tomorrow, forewarning of a chilly, slick and unlined future. The role of childhood is predominant in Dou’s work. From the cherub to the little boy and well-dressed girl, children refocus the visitor, starring at him, or adopting a dreamy and languid pose. The « Cubs » series offers children portraits of a grim perfection, pale complexion and lifeless look.

Oleg Dou confides that he was inspired at first by a curious tradition practised in the 19th century : child funeral portrait. The shooting required a long and fine preparation. The costume in particular was very sophisticated and each detail was fancy, from the position of the hands to the slightest lock. The little fragile body, lifeless, prepared for the hereafter, was immortalized in a still life photograph. In the other hand - this time from his true-life - the artist evokes an unhappy memory of his childhood, when, at the occasion of parties, he had to wear a costume. Dressed up as a white rabbit, a costume that his mother made herself with a lot of patience, the little Oleg felt terrible and bursted into tears when he had to smile at the camera. « I couldn’t pretend being happy in front of the camera, I hated being photographed. The image finally reflected my discomfort and my vexation. It’s still often the case today. I try to recreate the expression of this embarrassment in my portraits, but this time, I provoke it. For the « Cubs » series, all the costumes were tailored by my mother, based on my sketches. »

Dou’s work finds its roots in our occidental culture as it stigmatises the tradition of portrait with a contemporary spirit, the one of our new human condition. Oleg Dou captures faces and orchestrate their mutation, he « operates » them. Characters appear silently, walled in their own universe. And yet, unique specimen of their species, these beings look like sending out a distress call, putting us face to face with the irreversible testimony of a reality which drifted away from us. The artist offers his little witnesses to the visitor. « Cubs » is definitly not a work about human’s animality in his brutal and wild dimension. In the contrary, these attributes from animal kingdom turn Oleg Dou’s characters into supermen. Thus, Fawn or even Monkey rise up as curious icons, combining the unreal with a new form of mythology.

Oleg DOU "Monkey", 2010
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Oleg DOU "Pig", 2010
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Oleg DOU "Goat", 2010
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