I spent September of 2022 at Chateau Orquevaux, which is two and a half hours south of Paris by train. The Chateau is a large private estate transformed into an International Artist Residency by the owner Ziggy Attias. Myself and fourteen other artists enjoyed the room and board, welcoming staff, private art studios and a month of meditation. The goal of this residency was a finished project shared among us by the end of the stay. I embarked on this journey without any expectations or plans, I honestly just felt anxious about traveling for the first time after the pandemic.

Inspiration struck almost immediately. Once I settled into my studio space at the former stables (remodeled into a decent working space), I went to rummage  through some leftover relics in the storage area. A black and white daguerreotype family portrait caught my eye. It seemed authentic, like it belonged. A family of seven, long gone, leaving only ghosts to remain in their place. In that fairytale French village where the air itself seemed to be thick with memories of others, I kept thinking that all of us, our September crew, might come back as ghosts to that place of sublime happiness at some point. The concept of “ghosts” was born - and now I only needed to find a solution for its execution.

I have been working on the Extinct Series since 2016, a collection of paintings depicting chairs as characters. Each of them is colored with a different mood, shape, emotion and story. Behind their vacancy there is the “chair-ness” that takes objects and people back to their archetypes and essence. GHOSTS OF ORQUEVAUX is a collection of “portraits” of my fellow creators from the residency, or rather, my painterly interpretation of their characters. In that time I had gotten to know them (at least superficially) as people and as artists.
Both of these traits were reflected in oil paint. Quite a few of the paintings were my first impressions, while others took time to develop. Behind each painting there is a real person with their name attached. During the time of the residency it became something of a playful game to post an image a day on Instagram with another “portrait” adding to the mystery of its anticipation. I feel fortunate and honored to have spent a month in the company of such personalities, and if this is any prospect of eternity then it’s not half bad.

This show is a unique opportunity to share GHOSTS OF ORQUEVAUX as a cohesive collection for the first time, newly dressed with handmade “antique-chic” frames, a nice final touch in the recording of the month of magic. Please enjoy the show!

Elena Zolotnitsky, April 10, 2023