By Natalie Powell.
Ysabel LeMay’s works seem like pages torn from a grown-up fairy tale, in which the protagonist is the viewer, journeying through LeMay’s still-life reconstructions of nature.
One of LeMay’s foremost inspirations is the Garden of Eden, and this is apparent in her work. She seems to find divinity in nature, in all its varied forms and states, and plays with the different moods nature can evoke. It’s as if each of LeMay’s works depicts a corner of the Garden of Eden of her imagination, a wildwood full of untold danger and beauty.
To create her dreamscapes, LeMay—a former graphic designer and classical painter—takes hundreds of photographs, artfully merges them into single compositions, and then adds layers of mist to create surreal, dream-like spaces. This process, which LeMay calls “photo-fusion,” that can take up to 8 weeks to complete. The resulting works are detail-rich, fanciful, and mysterious; when viewed collectively, they take us on a journey.
In “Sanctum,” for example, we find ourselves in a delightful wooded thicket, where pastel colored flowers bloom and birds dart to and fro. A soft mist lies just ahead and seems to beckon us forward into the unknown.
In “Illuminated,” we emerge in a ghostly forest that seems to hold countless secrets. White birch trees shrouded in mist (or are those spiderwebs?) tower over us; just beyond lies inky blackness.
We venture forward uncertainly, and reach “Stillness.” An unearthly tree with snow white leaves imbues us with a sense of foreboding. A deafening silence seems to surround us as we run forward…
With relief, we emerge from the forest into a sun-drenched clearing, in the middle of which stands LeMay’s “Arborvitae” (Latin for “Tree of Life”). This tall, proud Cyrus, bursting with birds and butterflies, reassures us all is well in the world.
Clearly, when viewing LeMay’s works in succession, its easy to let one’s imagination get carried away. This is a testament to her artistic vision and imagination. Each of LeMay’s works tells a compelling narrative and has a mood all its own.
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All images courtesy of Ysabel LeMay.