French Artist’s Photo Exhibition Gives Unique Snapshot of Kazakh Regions

ASTANA – French multidisciplinary artist Adèle Jelansky presented a photo exhibition, the result of her six-month creative photography residency in Kazakhstan, at the National Museum of Kazakhstan on Dec. 7.

Photo exhibition “Men seni zhaksy koremin” or “Maintenant, je te vois” (I love/see you) opened at the National Museum. Photo credit: Aibarshyn Akhmetkali/The Astana Times.

The new exhibition of 45 photographic collages, which is on display until Jan.7, 2024, takes viewers on a journey with the photographer: from Almaty to the Altai region, from Mangystau to Turkistan, from Shymkent to Karagandy, all the way to Astana.

It chronicles Jelansky’s artistic journey through Kazakhstan, exploring the deeper meaning buried in the lines of buildings, images of locals caught in the moment and vast steppes and nature. To an attentive eye, it might reveal some new truths about Kazakhstan.

“These photographs, weave together the regions she has been to, showing rather unexpected pairings. In her technique, Adèle overlays images on top of each other, exploring the essence of the landscapes, whether natural, social or historical. This exhibition is a declaration of love for Kazakhstan, this vast and diverse country,” said French Ambassador to Kazakhstan Didier Canesse.

Artist Adèle Jelansky spent six months traveling through Kazakhstan. Photo credit: Aibarshyn Akhmetkali/The Astana Times.

For the artist, the exhibition is the product of a long, slow process of exploring a new way of creativity. “This journey has been very fulfilling, both personally and creatively,” said Jelansky.

“When you travel or find yourself in non-standard situations, when you don’t know how to react, when you are constantly in a new environment and out of your comfort zone – this is what stimulates artistic creativity. And getting to know a new country is also a good opportunity to nourish, to form your views, to change and to understand the world and relationships better,” she added.

For the title of this exhibition, the artist chose Men Seni Zhaksy Koremin – both for its general meaning from Kazakh “I love you,” a declaration of affection for Kazakhstan and its people, and verbatim “I see you well.” In Jelansky’s eyes, seeing is also loving.

The artist’s process

Jelansky’s works look like digital collages, but a closer inspection reveals they are distinct photographs layered one on the other to bring out the most familiar or disturbing to the surface.

Jelansky uses layering technique to create bold and colorful images. Photo credit: Aibarshyn Akhmetkali/The Astana Times.

After exploring the cities and places, Jelansky starts her layering work by manipulating photographs, gathering all the separate images to then assemble them into a piece of art. She approaches the layering process in her own way.

“Actually, I cannot really explain it. I guess it is more like working with chance and intuition,” said the artist.

“Sometimes it can be a visual intuition. I notice that this composition from this image might resonate with another one. But sometimes, it is just that I want to speak about two ideas or three ideas differently, so I choose, I pick what I need from different pictures. In some other times, it is just a chance,” said Jelansky revealing the unique system behind her work.

The exhibition of 45 photographic collages will be on display until Jan.7, 2024. Photo credit: Aibarshyn Akhmetkali/The Astana Times.

Layering brings richness to the colors. The result is distinctive, instantly identifiable artwork that lies somewhere between a photo and a painting.

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