Floraleza Exhibition


The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in conjunction with the Embassy of Spain presents the Floraleza Exhibition which will  showcase new work by Ouka Leele.

Ouka Leele is a photographer, artist and poet from Spain who spent her childhood living between Madrid and Spain Rafael, where the beauty of the surrounding woods is stamped on her heart forever. She spends her days drawing and painting and reading books on art, hence this exhibition. Below is an interview in which the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) spoke to her (OL) with regards to the upcoming exhibition.

NGZ: What is this Floraleza Exhibition  all about?

OL: It is about flowers, hence the title FLORALEZA, a word that does not exist in my language but is a combination of the words nature, flower and force (naturaleza, flor, fuerza). It is part of a serigraphy I made for a collector’s book which also includes my poems on flowers which for me are masters of beauty.

NGZ: What is the significance of the show?

OL: To show that flowers, even the littlest ones, are a song of life dedicated to life, and a lesson in living geometry.

NGZ: Is there any link between the subject matter and your personal experiences?

OL: The essence of the flowers is exhibited through me, and I exhibit myself flourishing. The works were created just after my mother passed away and they helped me a lot.

NGZ: What led to your exhibiting here in Zimbabwe?

OL: I was invited to exhibit my work by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain. This is my first exhibition in Zimbabwe and I am very excited to be given this opportunity to share my work in this country and hope that it will lead to more cooperation opportunities between artists of our two countries.

NGZ: What do you think of this exhibition and the opportunities it offers to other artists here in Zimbabwe?

OL: Inspiration and its manifestation in art is very personal, however,  looking at the creations of other artists, especially from countries and cultures very different to your own, deepens one’s appreciation for the expression of art in which ever form it is expressed. Art is a universal expression of life, and I hope that artists from Zimbabwe are inspired by my work and use of colours.
NGZ: What mediums were used to create the artworks?

OL: It is a serigraphy. I first made the original drawings and on top of these drawings I made sheets/plates of each colour on onionskin or lead acetate paper. Then in the studio, silk screens were created from the acetates. And on these screens, the ink colours were put, one by one, in a predetermined order, to reach the final result on paper which you see at this exhibition. Serigraphic inks are wonderful, they have such vibrant colours.

NGZ: Can you please provide a brief background about yourself

OL: I was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1957. My name is Barbara Allende Gil de Biedma, however in the late 70’s I took the pseudonym OUKA LEELE as an artistic name.

From early childhood I had an artistic vocation, particularly for painting; however, I spent time studying drawing, sculpture as well as painting. Very soon photography appeared on my horizon and I included it in my work, merging painting and photography in a very personal language that was iconic and emblematic of the “Movida Madrileña”, a cultural movement that led to Spain crossing all borders. Since then, my work has been exhibited in cities across every continent.

From 2002 to 2004, I painted a mural measuring almost 300 square metres which was the basis for the film “La Mirada de Ouka Leele” (The Eye of Ouka Leele) by Raphael Gordon, which was nominated for a Goya Award by the Spanish Film Academy. In 2005, I received the National Award for Photography that led me to return to photography which I was abandoning because of the digital invasion. Preparing for the exhibition for the National Award, I became immersed in the digital world and in the art of computer enhancement.

In 2010 I was the first Spanish artist to exhibit at the Shanghai Biennial. I made a film on Caddy Adzuba and the violence in the Congo, which formed part of the “Un Banquete Cruel” (A Cruel Banquet) exhibition at the “Círculo de Bellas Artes” (Circle of Fine Arts) in Madrid. And I have just finished an exhibition on a year of work in the region of Asturias in Spain titled: “A donde la Luz me lleve” (Where the Light Takes Me).

The Floraleza Exhibition will run from the 6th of July and will be officially opened on the 21st of July at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and will run up to the 4th of September 2015.

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