Short text about Popel Coumou:
Slight shadows cast by layers of paper, suggestions of space and missing visual information keep you guessing. The simplest physical constructions – handmade collages and miniatures – are transformed into intriguing, dreamlike images that compel the viewer to question what they see. Using only paper and light, Popel Coumou creates a sense of being suspended in space and time. She questions our perception of space in her photography-based artworks. She explores the way our minds work; how little information we need in order to fill in the blanks and create our own realities.
A photograph is conventionally regarded as an end product, but for Popel, it can also be a starting point. The layers out of which she builds her latest interiors are images of skies. These cause natural colour gradients and create an illusion of depth, while the texture in the paper itself is clearly visible. With the collages made up of these sheets of paper, she dissects the very idea that an image should represent reality. The honesty in her deliberately imperfect artworks allows the viewer to see beyond their inherent nature and appreciate where the forms take you.
Over the last 15 years, Popel’s body of work has followed a steady trajectory, where every next step makes sense in her development yet surprises everyone who follows her. To further diffuse the borders between reality and fiction, figuration and abstraction, Popel doesn’t always present a photograph as the artwork anymore. Some pieces turn out to be original, unique collages. In her relief works, she even breaks through the flat surface and penetrates the third dimension. Tirelessly experimenting to find new forms of expression, she keeps lifting the medium of photography to unforeseen and exhilarating heights.
My work is generously supported by the Mondrian Fund