She was born in Madrid in 1957, under her real name of Bárbara Allende Gil de Biedma. She was interested in painting since childhood, although she decided to train as a photographer. She mastered the technique, and at the age of 18 various of her photographs were included in the book ‘Principio’, together with other promising young photographers, and published in the specialist magazines ‘Zoom’ and ‘Nueva Lente’. In 1978 the magazine ‘Star’ asked her to create a colour photograph for its front cover, and as she specialised in black and white photography she decided to use a technique from the beginning of the century consisting of colouring the photograph with bright watercolours.
Ouka Leele wanted to be a painter but discovered photography as another medium of looking at figurative work. At a unique moment in Spanish history in the aftermath of Franco’s death, she invented a fresh and original way of looking at images.
With great ease she became a part of the nation’s “movida Madrileña” movement and defined a contemporary approach to seduction located between provocation and playing with the concept of beauty.
She has never considered photography to be merely a tool to render reality visible. Rather, she uses it as an instrument to impose her point of view through both intimacy and distance.
Stories and works: