Ouka Leele, born in Madrid in 1957, is a Spanish photographer whose real name is Barbara Allende Gil de Biedma. Even though she wanted to be a painter, she discovered photography as a medium to express her natural and intensive artistic sensitivity.
It is in the 1980s in Madrid during the nation’s “movida” movement when she demonstrated her interest in a variety of artistic disciplines such as drawing, serigraphy, painting and literature resulting in a series of photos labelled as “icons of her time”.
In her photography one recognizes the references to the ancient civilizations, mythological stories, literature and intimate worlds of family and friends placed in different settings including portraits and self-portraits. Her unedited photos that are often additionally hand painted is an attempt to show human nature and to reveal the connections between life, emotions and its translations in art language.
She was awarded the 2004 Culture Prize by the Community of Madrid and the 2005 National Photography Award and her works can be found in a number of collections, including Collection Arco (Madrid), Foundation Cartier (Paris), Foundation La Caixa (Barcelona), Cervantes Institute (Lisbon), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), Tabaco Gitanes (Paris).
In 2019, Ouka Leele is nominated for the Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro Arles, thanks to her pictures of “La Movida”, a cultural movement at the beginning of the 80s in Madrid, Spain.
At Paris Photo 2020 we’ll be able to see the complete unseen collection of 21 big format Polaroids (50×60 cm) that she took due to a commission from the Cartier Foundation in 1988.
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“Reality Falls Short” – Domestika Maestros: Ouka Leele
The photographer and painter Ouka Leele, iconic 80’s Spanish artist and winner of the National Photography Award, uses reality to build new worlds full of color and fantasy.