Set against the backdrop of an oversized, Alice-in-Wonderland world, Oleg Oprisco’s surreal fine art photography is truly extraordinary. Ethereal, dream-like and other-worldy, his fairy-tale scenes are, amazingly, constructed and assembled purely with Oprisco’s own bare hands and vivid imagination. The fantastical scenes are not Photoshopped, but physically crafted together before the shoot… often taking days to put together.
Ever-present in Oprisco’s photography is a core essence of storytelling, folklore and dreams. Delicate, pale, faery-like models emerge from colourful flowerbeds, perch atop rock pinnacles in the sea, or drape from ghostly trees. In one image, a model stands in a barren field with an oversized paintbrush, as if painting the great stripes of green grass onto the field herself. In another image, a model opens an old book and colourful butterflies burst forth from its pages. Oprisco’s imagination is limitless. Yet the images are not saccharine-sweet… many contain elements of darkness or a touch of the sinister. In one image a woman stands in front of a lake with a burning umbrella, calm and emotionless as the flames flicker violently above her. This particular image required rehearsing with 50 ignited umbrellas before the perfect shot was achieved. In another image, empty, ghostly clothes hang from spidery trees in a colourless forest. Many of these darker elements in Oprisco's photography could be interpreted as a reflection of the political disruption in his home country Ukraine between 2013 and 2014, which Oprisco stated “gave strong impetus to the development of local art.”
Oprisco first experimented with photography at the age of 16 and began his photographic career as a colour-corrector in a small photo lab. This is where he first developed his interest in colour and learnt more about what colour combinations seemed to innately appeal to people. As well as designing his scenes organically without computer intervention, Oprisco is also unusual in that he shoots his photography with an old-fashioned camera that he bought for just $50. He explains that shooting with film is a “crazy mix of luck, calculation, planning and luck again.”
The joy of Oprisco’s fine art photography is that it ignites our imaginations like a childhood story, transporting us into a surreal realm of dreams and the unexpected.