Shortly after Catherine Rondeau’s return to photography, the success of her Beyond the Looking Glass (2011-2014) project launched her artistic career. This vast series of photomontages depicting the imaginary world of children was inspired by an essay she published on the concept of wonderment in folk and fairy tales. The images show the artist’s own daughters, much like protagonists in bed time stories, facing their fears and satisfying their inner most desires.
In logical continuity with her work on childhood, Rondeau then turned her attention to the period of early adolescence. And more specifically to the delicate transition from girlhood to womanhood. With wintery landscapes as a backdrop, the images from her Northern Crossing series (2015-2016) offer an allegoric portrayal of the numerous contradictions that privately ferment in the minds of 12 to 15-year-old girls.
With Back to Wonderland, an ongoing production, the artist falls once again down the rabbit hole to portray childhood fantasy play. Rondeau uses pictures she took of her daughters when they were little to create her whimsical photomontages.
Rondeau has developed an expertise in digital imagery manipulation. Favoring natural light and spontaneity when shooting her base material, she then takes pleasure in playing with the elements in order to compose dreamlike tableaus that blur the boundaries between truth and falsehood. From this fine intertwinement of fiction and reality emerges a whimsical form of storytelling. Each image draws the spectator into a parallel world that summons back, much like dreams do, an emotion or a mental state.
Working with her own children as models in unusual settings contributes to the unique combination of complicity and strangeness that characterizes Rondeau’s distinctive photographic style. In keeping with the normal pressures that punctuate childhood and adolescence, Rondeau instills visual tensions in her imaginary territories, along with a touch of mystery, inciting the viewer to re-examine and question the image, thereby awakening multiple levels of understanding.
Catherine Rondeau’s work elicits praise from a broad public, composed of both big and small, from appreciative art connoisseurs to enthusiastic on-lookers.