Loretta Lux: The Mystique of Isabella

Loretta Lux, Isabella, 2001, Silver Dye Bleach Print

Loretta Lux, Isabella, 2001, Silver Dye Bleach Print

Loretta Lux: The Mystique of Isabella


With Isabella’s big head, small body and fine, delicate features, she is a modern day version of Agnolo Bronzino’s aristocratic children portraits. Isabella looms right in front of you, staring at you with those big, steely blue eyes of her that offers a hint of sadness, and reflected not only her blue knitted pullover but also the azure blue sky. A picture of perfection. When you reach out to touch those fine silky blond hairs of hers, you can almost feel your fingers slipping softly through them. Pale faced and cherubic, her lips are pressed into a thin line- the innocence of childhood merged seamlessly with the burdens of adulthood. She stands, slightly hunched, a bulbous big head atop a small warm pullover body. However, the child is standing in front of a wide expanse of blue sky and green plains. Fluffy white clouds streak across the sky. It is a daydream, abide a sad longing through the blue eyes of the child; a naïve fantasy of a perfect childhood that the artist does not have.

Loretta Lux’s father left when she was a child. Growing up in Dresden, East Germany, she lived amidst the steel, cement and grey architecture of an impoverished landscape. The weather was harsh and cold; the skies somber grey. One walks pass streets of vandalized walls and broken window panes with the silent emptiness of bare trees and homes. The dream of a beautiful childhood seems unreachable. However, if one cannot experience such beauty and idealism in an imperfect world, one creates.

Lux staged her photos through carefully calculated and conceptualized process of art direction, paintings and photoshop. A long and arduous thought process, there is a fastidious attentiveness to color, shapes, forms, composition and textures. The hands of the artist and the camera merged into one, Lux effectively blurred the boundary between painting and photography.

Professor Gerd Winner who taught Lux when she was a student said that she held herself ‘aloof from the rest of the students’ and that the impression she gave of him was that it was as if ‘she had no past’. On the eve of her first exhibition, she changed her name to Loretta Lux. Prof Winner refused to divulge her real name.

The ugliness of Dresden is vapourised and transformed in ‘Isabella’. However, the melancholic eyes of the child belie the artist’s own psyche of an unhappy childhood. There is a serious contemplation in that small tiny world of hers, a maturity that lies beyond Isabella’s age. It is a personal portrait as much as an archetype portrait. Like her creator’s hidden identity, Isabella beholds a mystery behind those sad, blue eyes of hers- the key to unlock that strange yet enchanting balance between solitude and innocence, mystique and endearment.

Disclaimer: All views on the site are solely of the author’s and in no way are a representation of any individuals or organisations.

Copyright © 2012 Liau Shu Juan.


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