A Retrospective on one of Ukraine’s Most Unique Artists’ Collectives
If you are a fan of vintage style and photography, and haven’t had the good fortune to come across Retro Atelier yet, then it’s about time that you did. Retro Atelier is a collective of artists from the Ukraine who create remarkable conceptual photography inspired and influenced by images of a bygone age. Retro Atelier describe themselves as a ‘team of vintage photography aficionados’ whose shared loved of retro cinematography, art and paintings have been an initial stimulus for their unique and dramatic visual style. Their collection features a wide array of photographs, ranging from Art Nouveau and Art Deco themed images, right through to the more racy Pin-Up and Burlesque photography of the 1950’s. The styles and poses have been so painstakingly created one could easily mistake them for original photographs from the actual era they represent, and this is where Retroatelier score so highly in the artistic stakes: their attention to detail really is second to none. This, coupled with the group’s passion for indulging in their love of the “time-honoured archetypes of female allure” is what makes the work so enthralling and appealing. The artists attribute the authenticity of their work to having access to twenty-first century photographic tools and techniques, but there is more to this than meets the eye. We’ve delved a little deeper to find out what ignites their creative fire, and how they keep their artistic flame burning.
Moving from Dreams to Actions
Picasso once wrote: “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.” Every creative endeavour begins with a single dream and a passionate desire to make the impossible possible. Retro Atelier capture the dream perfectly. Producing photographs that replicate a specific era and don’t cross the tenuous line into kitsch is not an easy task. However, the collective achieve it admirably because each and every photograph is so precise and particular to the period and genre it recreates. From the intricate styling, costumes, and lighting, to the subtle tints and colours employed in the photographic process, the gorgeous images speak of a bygone era where beauty was timeless and the female form was truly revered. You only need to look at the Art Nouveau images in Retro Atelier album of work to see how committed the artists are in capturing a pure moment of nostalgia, yet still managing to imbue it with their own unique twenty-first century photographic style.
Redefining the Art of Erotic Imagery
One of the key successes to the work is Retro Atelier’s choice of models for their images. There are no anorexic, half-starved women here! A bevy of absolute beauties abound the website; all of them weaving their inexplicable magic with an intoxicating concoction of natural curves, enigmatic expressions and a little bit of ‘je ne sais quoi’ thrown in for good measure. Here, the naked body is seen to be truly beautiful, and as a viewer (or voyeur) of these images, it can be a pretty emotive experience. Why? Perhaps it is because Retro Atelier’s photographs cleverly remind us that you don’t need to be photographed butt naked to be thought of as ‘sexy’ or even ‘sexual’. Like a Burlesque performance, it seems the key to creating an alluring and erotic image is by demonstrating the possibilities of what is unspoken and ultimately hidden. The exciting factor in this process is that we can then use our own imagination to develop our own personal fantasy of what we see in front of us. As the Retro Atelier artists point out: “As far as the erotic element is concerned, we make a point of keeping it fairly subtle, with the emphasis being on referencing the more risqué side of vintage beauty standards as opposed to letting bare flesh speak for itself.” Wise words indeed.
Pushing Photographic Boundaries Through Reminiscence and Nostalgia
The Retro Atelier collective describe themselves as “Master Conjurers” who create photographic illusions of their own, and always keen to push their artistic boundaries, they will soon be embarking on another project – using the old method of Ambrotype imaging as an additional medium in their work. Basically, Ambrotype was a wet-plate photographic process invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851 and involved a mixture of salted collodion being poured onto a clean sheet of glass, dipped into silver nitrate to make it light sensitive and then exposed, developed and fixed. Scott Archer then discovered that the thin glass negative could become the photo itself, if it was viewed against a black background, which led to many of these images being encased in ornate hinged boxes, as they were extremely brittle and could easily shatter. If the artists at Retro Atelier can master this fragile and delicate method of working, and at the same time put their own unique stamp on it, it would add yet a further unique dimension to the group’s already distinctive portfolio of work. One cannot help thinking that somehow they will make this happen, since they clearly love the process of experimentation as a way of informing and developing their art.
Work that is Worth Investing in
Times are tough economically throughout the world at the moment, and yet thankfully, art and culture are still thriving and growing. Why is this? Perhaps it is because the smart speculator understands that taking a punt and investing in art long term is a much safer and more productive way of increasing growth on their initial investment. We are extremely fortunate to have a banking system that has now become so sophisticated it is much easier for anyone to purchase work anywhere in the world, however remote the location. One sincerely hopes this benefits Retro Atelier in terms of promoting and selling their art to potential collectors in the future, as there is no doubt that their distinctive work has great appeal. If this article has not convinced you, then why not decide for yourself? Take a look at their website and if you love what you see, try, if you can, to resist the sudden uncontrollable urge to buy each and every one of the exquisite photographs on view! We’re not too sure whether it is possible to purchase a Retro Atelier original at this present moment in time, but with many methods available for moving finances abroad with the click of a mouse, it certainly wouldn’t be a problem sending your cash over to the Ukraine - that is of course if Retro Atelier are prepared to part with their photographic masterpieces. We leave the final negotiations up to you!