The photographer and painter Ouka Leele, an icon of Madrid’s Movida, dies at the age of 64
Bárbara Allende Gil de Biedma, one of the prominent faces of Spanish social and artistic change in the 1980s, she paints her black and white snapshots with watercolor
The photographer and painter Ouka Leele, artistic nickname of Bárbara Allende Gil de Biedma, died this Tuesday, a month before her 65th birthday, a source familiar with the artist told Efe. She has died this afternoon in a Madrid hospital after falling ill.
National Photography Award 2005 and Silver Award from the Community of Madrid, among many other awards, Ouka Lele is a prominent member of Movida Madrid. Photographer, painter and pop icon. He was one of the prominent faces of the Spanish Revolution and the social and artistic changes of the 1980s, a key figure in the vibrant art world of the time. His art is undoubtedly associated with black and white photographs, polluted films, music and paintings in intense watercolor tones. Since then, his work has been exhibited in many countries and he has worked in institutions such as the Reina Sofía Museum, the La Kaisa Foundation or the Arco Collection.
Born in Madrid in 1957, her first profession was painting, in fact, she studied fine arts, although she dropped out to study piano, and at the same time she went to study photography at the Photocentro in Madrid (the first photography school in Spain). ). She began exhibiting in 1978 after publishing her first work in a book called Principio. Her photos are usually black and white (she hates color photos), and when she was commissioned to do color photos for the cover, she decided to invent the color of the image. She thus began to color the snapshots, combining her career as a painter with photography.
In an interview with this newspaper in June 2021, she recounted her beginnings: “I am very shy, but I am a bit like the piper of Hamelin because everyone enjoys what I do. One day at school, I told my classmates to go to the closet to hang on the hangers, and when the teacher came in there was no one in the classroom… I think photography is a practical thing. I went to the Photocentro school in 1975 [coinciding with Pablo Pérez-Mínguez and Jorge Rueda] Because an annoying friend told me “let’s go, let’s go”, when I saw the development I liked it. Then we took photos and we cried with laughter… it’s the germ of the Movida”. .
She is part of the creative team of Ceesepe, El Hortelano or Alberto García-Alix. They’ve all collaborated on what they’ve done in magazines like The Star. One to play, the other to paint, and they encourage you to take photos… very creative, we think we’re important, we’re doing something historic. We do not dedicate ourselves to art to earn money. The important thing is the freedom to do what we want, ”she told EL PAÍS.
Her career continued with exhibitions in Spain, Europe, the United States and Japan, without forgetting her purely personal work. Among them, she participated in the São Paulo Contemporary Art Biennial in 1987 and her first retrospective at the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art (Madrid). Ouka Leele has no editing: what appears in the photo is prepared before the snapshot, and for the author, this is the most interesting creative moment because it creates an unreal world.