In my attempts to become familiar with the basics in Adobe Photoshop Elements within the online tutorials, I stumbled upon the acclaimed Russian Photographer Oleg Dou – the artist whose work in 2012 graced the cover version of Photoshop CS6. My attention was captured during the entire you tube clip where he described his journey to becoming the international artist that he is now, only seven years since his photographic work was first discovered. It was only a year before that when he purchased his first professional camera.
Born in 1983, as the son of a painter and dress designer, he was always surrounded by the artist culture, but never particularly enjoyed being immersed in it at the time. He remembers unhappy childhood memories where he was made to wear costumes against his wishes, which ended up being a primary motivating focus for his works as his own creative cravings began later in his life.
“I felt an urge for arts and creation some time ago, when I was working as a web designer, which pushed me to study seriously the design. Thats how I “bumped into” photography, and I had an idea to combine it with design.”
When you pay a visit to Oleg Dou online you will see that he has produced a series of self-portraits (like this one) of him as a child in the 80’s with his face digitally manipulated to suggest the enforced costume era that he remembers so vividly.
His work is unique to anything I have ever seen before, and the disturbing but also beautiful personas he has created intrigue me. I am particularly fond of the ‘Cub’ and ‘Toy Story’ series as above, as they feature children in animal and ‘dress up’ objects, reminding me of my own childhood dress up sessions of which I enjoyed immensely. Many of his works have been inspired by an interest in medieval portraits of women with pale skin and no emotion displayed on their faces. Other works are inspired by a curious tradition practiced in XIX century where dead children were painted and immortalized in a picture for the family. Using Adobe Photoshop Elements Oleg creates a representational twist of this tradition in a contemporary context.
“I use artificial nature of a digital photography as a tool to reach the point between opposites such as alive and dead, attractive and disturbing, beautiful and ugly.”
When viewing the Adobe Photoshop spotlight feature of Oleg, I was mesmerized at the painstakingly long and precise lengths he goes to, in order to create his vision in mind; a vision that initially struck him by a purely fortunate accident.
‘According to legend, one day when he began to retouch a photo of one of his girlfriend, the much overdone. However, this whitewashed, and Peeled portrait as a result of Oleg so impressed that he decided to continue to create something similar.’
Now much of Oleg’s art takes place hours before the photograph is even taken to produce the smooth and semi-fantastic end result. Using costume and other media to create the foundations of the image, before even seeing the digital form of it, to then go on to manipulate and continue the piece is this way. I appreciate and admire his meticulous nature that drives him to bring such work into manifestation.
Like the work of a sculptor he first manually imposes on the facial textures, sometimes as if like Paper-Mache and creates the desired costume. Then utilising digital tools to fine-tune his images to flawless perfection, the results become striking a bit eerie fraught with deep and disturbing emotion. His models become a mirror for his own reflecting emotions, so to some extent one could say that his works are a form of self-portrait. From children with bloodshot eyes from tears, ascetic monks, cub’s beasts with human faces and storybook characters, every set of eyes seemingly pierces right through the viewer. Alluring don’t you think?
See for yourself here in the clip that inspired me.
Information on Oleg Dou is extremely scarce, however any of these links I have referenced will give you more insight into one of the most prominent artists of his generation.
Art Investment RU. (2012). Artist of the Week: Oleg Dou. Retrieved from
Duncan Miller Gallery. (n.d). Artists: Oleg Dou. Retrieved on April 10, 2013 from http://www.duncanmillergallery.com/artists/Oleg%20Dou.html
Explorations Project. (2011). Who is Oleg Dou? Retrieved from http://explorationsproject.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/who-is-oleg-dou/
The Ground. (2012). Oleg Dou – Beautiful and Repulsive Portraits. Retrieved from http://www.thegroundmag.com/oleg-dou-beautiful-and-repulsive-portraits/
Robert Fontaine Gallery. (2013). Artists: Oleg Dou. Retrieved from http://www.robertfontainegallery.com/artists/Oleg_Dou/bio.html
Russian Tea Room Gallery. (n.d). Artists: Oleg Dou. Retrieved on April 10, 2013 from http://www.rtrgallery.com/html.php?lang=en&id=21
Oleg Dou. (2013). Oleg Dou. Retrieved from http://olegdou.com
You Tube. (2013). Adobe & Oleg Dou. Retrieved on April 10, 2013 from