Open Call Spotlight: ESTELLE MAGNIN

February 14, 2021

Estelle Magnin is a photographer and visual artist who holds a degree in Visual Arts from the University of Strasbourg and a Master in curating contemporary exhibitions from the Sorbonne in Paris. In 2019, she participated in an artist residency at the Shangyuan Art Museum in Beijing. Her style evokes illusory aspects of the natural world. The duality between fiction and reality finds its point of resonance in her paintings on photographs, which unites two mediums that she also works with independently. Magnin uses her camera as a documentary process, tracking color above all and focusing on themes such as street, landscape, and experimentation. Her paintings are more enigmatic and testify to more intimate research. She finds endless possibilities between these mediums: her printed photograph can become a new canvas that she photographs and shapes again.

You mentioned that this series uses water as an allegory for your search for "the source." How will you know when you've found this source?

I think I can get close to the source, but I don't think I can ever find it. It's a lifelong research and I'm on tracks, and for me this is the more important thing. Maybe at some point I will feel ‘there it is,’ and it was so obvious all this time even if I could not figure it out before.

Estelle Magnin, Open Call, Seeking, Raise Karma, Art Collective


Which medium came first in your career-- photography or painting? Do you use them for different visual situations, or do you relate to them both similarly?

I came first into painting. I've always been manual, with a lot of imagination. Then I found out that sometimes, reality seems a lot like fiction – landscapes and people can be magical. So I started using photography.

How did you come to marry photography and painting in your artistic practice?


When I take a photograph, I often have a feeling that my lens can not transcribe. A kind of halo around the subject, or an idea. So I thought, instead of practicing painting and photography independently, I can also blend them and make the boundary between reality and fiction tighter.

Estelle Magnin, Open Call, Seeking, Raise Karma, Art Collective


What is the utility of the enigma innate to your paintings? Why do you create that tone?

Colors and shapes around us are always an enigma to me, that's why I like to travel. I am very curious. I can start a painting with an idea, a desire, or a need, like a primary one. Tones and composition get out of me and I have no idea why and how. I know it's finished when I find harmony between them. I think the utility of the enigma is to know that a ready-made answer is not always necessary, it's the act of seeking which is important. Things can be just how they are, have the right to exist, and have their own meaning for each of us. They can make us feel and think. This is freedom.

Estelle Magnin, Open Call, Seeking, Raise Karma, Art Collective

What is your favorite setting to shoot photos in?


I love to shoot photos with a low light, because light comes out of the dark significantly. As Jean-Paul Sartre said, “It is impossible to properly appreciate the light without knowing the darkness.”

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