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MARIE-LOU CHATEL

1943 GIRL SITTING ALONE WASHINGTON

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About the artwork

This scene of a young woman waiting in the Sea Grill restaurant was captured by Bubley Esther in 1943 in Washington then restored and colourised by Marie-Lou Chatel in 2013.The photographer?s objective is to find colours similar to reality without distorting the essence of the original image. The choice of both colours and settings must be meticulous and harmonious. Upon reflection, it seems akin to a countless number of categories: from haute couture to painting, to the talents of a stained-glass maker or jewel setter. This rigorous standard requires thorough research into the historical information prior to working on the photograph Marie-Lou Chatel thus affirms that she does not seek to reduce the power of value of black and white but rather to lend it more soul and meaning. She notably cites Fernando Pessoa: ?The value of things is not over time but in the intensity with which they emerge. That is why unforgettable moments, inexplicable phenomena, and incomparable individuals exist.?

The artist

Belgian artist Marie-Lou Chatel has specialised in the restoration and colourisation of old photographs. Since her teenage years, she has been interested in the work of the major photographers of the twentieth century, such as Dorothea Lange, William Gedney, and Jack Delano. She studied art history in Namur then photography in Charleroi and discovered, during her university research, the digital portal of the American Library of Congress Farm Security Administration / Office of War, whose particularity is that of enabling visitors to download black-and-white images in high resolution. This resource constitutes an important pictorial narrative of American life between 1935 and 1944. Playfully and out of curiosity, Marie-Lou Chatel started to colourise one, then two, then three photographs. The result was a revelation for the artist, whose approach aims not to reduce the power or value of black and white but to present scenes in a new light. Her meticulous yet highly poetic technical work, oscillating between invention and restitution, enables the spectator to forge an idea of life during this period.  ... See more See less

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