Many contemporary artists take photos and manipulate them to express their artistic vision. Others use paint and canvas to replicate the realism of photography. Isabelle, on the other hand, sees herself as an arrangeur – an art director. She decides everything: the model, the light, the detail, the camera setup, the format, the optics. She creates her own universe – an alternative world. And then, when she finally takes the photograph, having created the perfect arrangement, she’s finished. On principle, she doesn’t manipulate her photos digitally aside from a few colours here and there. “It is what it is”.

I love it, to create a universe, fill it with characters and then tell their stories”. And that’s what she does. Her portraits are landscapes of the soul, full of magic. They engender equal amounts of discomfort and pleasure. They can show, in one instance, a garishly made-up, doll-like children’s face, whose gaze seems to be penetrating the viewer’s. In another instance, they can show a growth-like mound of hair enveloping the head of a beautiful, stoic woman in its powerful web – a web with more dynamism and life than the woman herself. Her motifs are reminiscent of the MAGICAL CIRCUSES of the past: the CIRQUE MAGIQUE in which the strange and the monstrous are equally powerful, beauty and ugliness confront each other, before a precipice that draws in the viewer.

Jo Weissgerber

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