We had a conversation about her work and production practice with French artist Reine Paradis, who creates narrative photographs in which she stages herself as the central figure of an imaginary landscape, wearing dazzlingly colorful clothes that contrast and accentuate the colorful landscapes surrounding her.
Who is Reine Paradis? Can you briefly tell us about yourself?
I grew up in France and moved to Los Angeles in 2012. I had never been to the US before and I instantly fell in love with Los Angeles and the Califonian light which is so different from the light I knew in Europe. I felt very inspired by my new surroundings and for the first time in my life I felt free. This is when I started to develop my art in a serious way.
As an artist who creates a different reality in your art, can you tell us a little about your creative process? What thought processes do you follow when creating these alternative realities, and what kind of experience do you aim to offer the audience?
For each scene, the process I use to create my photo series is the same: First I imagine a scene, then I create steches and a maquette that I use as a reference throughout the whole process. I design the props, costumes, then I shoot the scene in a real location. Because I imagine all the scenes before shooting, it’s often challenging to find the real locations and in some cases it can involve traveling to different countries. Sometimes I have to spend a lot of time scouting before finding the perfect location. But in the end, the act of creating these works is always an adventure.
As an artist at the center of both the creative process and the physical, how would you describe the process of creating your own story and character in your art? How do you interact with your own story both creatively and artistically?
The initial process is one of imagination. That process involves many things, but I could argue that a big part is inspired by my childhood growing up in rual France. The character is a vision of how I see myself, so for that reason, it is necessary for me to “live” each scene. Without preforming, or ‘living,’ each scene, I wouldn’t be able to transmit my original vision.
The colors and costumes often used in your art seem to be an essential part of your work. Can you explain the role of colors and costumes in your work and the message they want to convey?
Color is at the center of my life. For as long as i can remember I have always been obsessed by colors in general — especially bright colors. I really love developping new color palettes and in recent years, I find myself attracted to palettes that are very minimalist. The reduced color palettes allow me to create very surealistic scenes.
As for the costumes, it’s also a part of the process that I really enjoy. They are also very minimalist and very graphic in their own way. The combination of all these elements form a world that I would love to live in all the time if I could.
Which of your works has excited you the most regarding the design process and the final product?
We recently shot a new scene on an iceberg in Iceland. The production of the props in the scene, plus the travel to the remote location, plus the logistics of finding a sutiable iceberg were all very difficult and exciting at the same time. The weather conditions were extremely intense and it took multiple days to be able to even get a chance to shoot. In the end, with extreme presistance and determination, we were able to make it happen! This photo will be one of fifteen in my new photo series “Eclipse.” That series, along with a new documentary “Paradisland,” will be released in 2024.
Can you tell us a little about the sources of inspiration behind your art?
I am very inspired by colors, minimalist architecture, very intense sunlight, harsh shadows, sureel landscapes, and bright colored childrens toys.
Are you excited for the future, and what are your plans?
2024 will be a big year for me and I am very excited about it. After 4 years in the making I will finally release my new photo series “Eclipse”! For the first time I will also exhibit some large scale paintings and installations that I have developed as well. A new film about my work, “Paradisland,” will also be relesed in selected theatres and on streaming platforms. It will follow the making of this new body of work over the past few years and across many countries. So stay tuned!