LEFT. JEAN AUGUSTE-DOMINIQUE INGRES, LA GRANDE ODALISQUE, 1814, Oil on Canvas, 88.9x162.56 cm, Louvre
RIGHT. MARC POSSO, L'ODALISQUE, 2022. Photography. 60x90 cm
An expression of freedom and the cultural and temporal symbiosis between East and West, the Renaissance and the Orientalist period, La Grande Odalisque (1814) by Jean Dominique Ingres is a major work and marks a decisive turning point in the history of the arts through its search for aesthetic perfection. It takes precedence over the realism popular at that time, as well as through its avant-garde audacity. The feminine sensuality is expressed through the sinuous arabesques of this nude in which the fantasized and dreamy ‘Orient’ appears.
The young Gabonese photographer, Marc Posso, transforms Ingres' Odalisque by combining Orientalism and Africanism while preserving the Western cultural perception of the ancient nude. An ambassador of African cultural diversity since the beginning of his career, the artist reconciles the Western influences of the Italian and Spanish Renaissance - following the path of Raphaël and Velasquez with his Venus at Her Mirror - expressing a dream of the Orient.
Marc Posso maintains the complementary golden and orange hues reflected on the woman's smooth skin, the blue velvet of the fabric, as well as the simple, curved lines of the model. In this way, he remains faithful to the core themes of Ingres' original work and also to the aesthetic language of his own.
The sensuality of Odalisque is exacerbated by the golden chain placed nonchalantly on her feminine curves, like the shoes in Manet's Olympia (1863), which serve as an ornament to the nudity and thus an invitation to look at her. It offers the vision of a powerful woman surprised in her intimacy, a free woman looking forward, however, Ingres' Odalisque attempts to invite the viewer to join her rather than challenge them. Marc Posso adds a dimension of independence to the indolent figure, inviting thoughts, introspection and a languid reverie.
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