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I spent September of 2022 at Chateau Orquevaux, two and a half hours south of Paris by train, the large private estate transformed into the International Artist Residency by the owner Ziggy Attias. Room and board, welcoming staff, 14 peers, a private studio and a month of meditation with the goal of a finished project to be shared by the end of the stay. I embarked on that journey without any expectations or a plan, just anxious about traveling for the first time after the pandemic. 


The inspiration struck almost immediately. Once I settled into my studio space at the former stables, remodeled into a decent working space, I went to rummage  through some leftover relics in the storage area. A black and white daguerreotype family portrait caught my eye. It seemed authentic, like it belonged. A family of 7 long gone, leaving only ghosts to remain. In that fairy tale French village where the air itself seemed to be thick with memories of others, I kept thinking that all of us, our September crew might come back as ghosts to that place of happiness and sublime at some point. The concept of “ghosts” was born - and now I only needed to find a solution for execution. 


I have been working on the Extinct Series since 2016, a collection of paintings depicting chairs as characters, each of them colored into a different mood, shape, emotion and story. Behind their vacancy there is the “chariness” that takes objects and people back to their archetypes and essence. GHOSTS OF ORQUEVAUX is a collection of “portraits” of my fellow creators from the residency, or rather my painterly interpretation of their characters. With the passing time I’ve got to know them, at least superficially, as people and as artists, both traits reflected in oil paint. Quite a few of them were my first impression when others took time to develop. Behind each painting there is a real person with their name attached. During the time of the residency it became something of a playful game to post an image a day on instagram with another “portrait” adding to the mystery of anticipation. I feel fortunate and honored to have spent a month is the company of such personalities, and if that is a prospect of the eternity then it is not half bad. 


This show is a unique opportunity to share GHOSTS OF ORQUEVAUX as a cohesive collection for the first time, newly dressed with the handmade “antique-chic” frames, a nice final touch in the recording of the month of magic. Please enjoy the show!



Elena Zolotnitsky, April 2023

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