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Opinion

Ouka Leele: Death is a teacher

'El viaje de una estrella', a documentary about the artist Bárbara Gil de Biedma, known as Ouka Leele, who died in 2022

Ouka Leele: Death is a teacher

TVE's Imprescindibles program has shown the announced documentary 'The journey of a star', about Ouka Leele, who died in 2022, directed by Bárbara Mateos and Jesús Jiménez. As witnesses of this journey appear Alberto García Alix, Miquel Barceló, Mariscal, Juana d'Aizpuru, Rocio Santa Cruz, Rossy de Palma or Maria Espeus, and especially the endearing testimony of his life and death lived by the only daughter, Maria Rosenfeldt. This has moved me to write these lines.

I will not discover this magnificent artist, what I want is to highlight her unpublished and mysterious look. Doubts and introspection appeared in his works, his photos are permeated with a melancholy that intensifies when he makes use of black and white photos, the nostalgic feeling produced by recollection and memory are like old photos found in a wooden box. Ouka Leele was a woman with deep eyes, naive and questioning. Her eyes go straight to the heart, The body is presented as an enigma that needs to be known, as the phenomenological support of emotions, as the physical being that, at any moment, as happened to her, can give you the life or death and obeys only its own laws.

Ouka Leele focuses on what is close, her family, her daughter, she is interested in life experience and they are full of love and endearing friendship. She has always wanted to sublimate what is everyday, to turn what is near into something magical, and that is why she declares herself in favor of a domestic mystique, in which what is ordinary is transformed without ceasing to be the what is.

Ouka Leele's death occurred a couple of years ago in 2022, but in the article "The Unpublished and Mysterious Look" that I published in Cultura's de la Vanguardia no. 399 in February 2010, that is twelve years before I spoke of this moment.

He said that Ouka Leele belongs to that rare group of people who have made thinking about death a natural and everyday thing. The artist said this resounding phrase: "death is a teacher. It called me, I went down, and in the ashes I found diamonds."

I want to highlight the fact that Alberto García Alix and Miquel Barceló agreed in this documentary in the same reflection saying that photography is a procedure that includes death, if we see a photograph of a person from many years ago we assume that they are dead and despite in the painting the characters seem alive to us for centuries that have passed. Photographing and painting were two mediums used by Ouka Leele, even at one point Juana de Aizpuru wonders why she didn't paint directly like painters do. However, Ouka Leele wanted to photograph the way death does and paint the way life does.

La mirada de Ouka Leele is another documentary made by Rafael Gordon in 2010, at the end you see some insects, the tombstones of an old cemetery and flowers of a thousand Oukaleelian colors. An insect has fallen into the water and absolved of its agony, recovers its flight from the hand of the artist: in an instant everything changes. The critter returns to the circle of life, an eternal return which is what Ouka Leele means in a strange and distant language.

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