Elusive Paradise by Isabelle Menin

Elusive Paradise

2019 / 2019 IME57
Elusive Paradise
60 x 60

Minuscule optical prisms create movement in the lenticular picture. This technique gives the motif an impressive three-dimensional depth.
Framed, Aluminium Artbox black

61,2 x 61,2 cm (External dimensions)

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It is immediately apparent that Isabelle Menin’s artistic background is in painting. Her bright colours and invigorating, fanciful manipulation of texture and materiality have enthralled the art community. Menin’s works are like vortexes, pulling viewers in deeper and deeper.

Menin describes her compositions as “Inland photographs and disordered landscapes”, as a means of drawing parallels between the complexity of the human character and that of nature. The inspiration for her work is drawn in part from Peter Paul Rubens and the so-called “Flemish Primitives”, an artistic circle prominent in the 15th and 16th Centuries that included Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling and Rogier van der Weyden. Menin’s link to the Flemish masters can be seen in her endeavour to create a distinctive form of reality inside fictional worlds.

Born in 1961, Isabelle Menin currently lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. After graduating from the Graphic Research School (ERG) in Brussels, in 1999, she explored painting for around 10 years, while working both graphic design and illustration jobs for various clients. Nature has always been a recurring theme for the artist, particularly flora, as aforementioned, starting with her interest in painting. After exhibiting some of these paintings in Belgium during the 1990s, Isabelle Menin decided to abandon the paintbrush and turned her interest photoshop and digital photography, in the late 90s. Still pursuing her interest in flowers, just on a new digital path, she begun a journey of experimentation. She started viscerally taking pictures of the flora that surrounded her and scanning these pictures. She doesn’t photograph a complete arrangement, but rather individual flowers. Which means each single anemone and each orchid is brought in front of the camera, perfectly illuminated and captured with technical expertise. She built up her vast digital collection with these individual shots, piece by piece. Once they are transcribed into a digital palette, she juxtaposes the individual flowers over each other creating complex, multi-layered collages. Some flowers might be moved to the background to create more spatial depth, others she might pile over one another to form delicate mountains. Her incredibly elaborate, ephemeral compositions of flora seem to belong in a world of dreams rather than reality. This is still the way she works today, however, with an entire ocean of flowers to choose from and with better technical and digital skills to apply to her creations. Often her final works are large enough to crash a computer’s processing power. She continues to experiment with digital textures and colors, transforming them, mixing them, and giving shape to their fictional nature, which retains both a dense and flamboyant feel at the same time. Isabelle Menin continues to exhibit across the world and her work is now recognized around the world, through an ever stronger loyal collector base.

1961Born in Brussels, Belgium
Studied Art at the School of Graphic Research in Brussels
Lives and works in Brussels
When did you become interested in art? How did it all begin?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in art. For my 6th birthday, my uncle took me to the opera – we saw Carmen, which is manageable for a child.
Immediately, I was hooked. I fell in love with the sets, the music, the emotions, the intensity - from that point on, my life was devoted to art. I became totally committed to the cause - or at least, to the feelings that it provoked in me.

How would you describe your work process?

My work is centered around digitally manipulated photography. I not only photograph the flowers in my images, but also the many other elements that make up my work – water, sky, stones, really any object or material with a shape, color or texture that interests me. I then combine these elements into a type of landscape, endeavouring to create a sense of balance. Sometimes, I will even layer several images that I previously considered finished to create one complete artwork. I build, destroy, assemble and re-assemble until I am satisfied that the final image has revealed itself. Arriving at this stage is a very personal and delicate journey.

Who inspires you?

Rather than 'who', I would say ‘what’. Love.

Which artists/works of art are you particularly impressed with at the moment?

I’m currently fascinated by the classical French landscape movement of the 16th and 17th centuries – artists like Le Lorrain, Poussin, Watteau etc. I love the way these artists broke the rules of classicism to create wild new landscapes.

What distinguishes a good work of art?

A work of art should open a door into ourselves, illuminate the darkest parts of our being and ultimately lead us closer to joy, pain and the meaning of life.

What is the purpose of art?

In my opinion, art exists to maintain our faith in humanity.

Does art bring about happiness?

I suppose that art can make us happy, in the sense that it can be consoling. At the very least, it can alleviate some of our suffering and help us to come to terms with life – this can provide a small degree of happiness.

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