Julie de Waroquier's world is a strange mix of joy and wistfulness. Her colors are either the sweet pastels that invoke the other-wordly tales of our childhood, or bright and contrasted - like a sunny day feels with your eyes closed.
Since many of her characters remain faceless, her talent at conveying emotion lies in her ability to capture little idiosyncrasies that say a lot, such as the bend of a shoulder or the twist of a hand. The anonymity of her subjects also facilitates identification, because after all, this happy little girl in a butterfly field could be me, could be you.
The sum of her work feels like a window wide open onto her psyche. It isn't hard to imagine that her recurrent themes of the passage of time and the breadth of the elements may be thoughts that lightly plague her. If the imagery of giant crushing clocks isn't enough, her titles also convey a certain sense of nostalgia, if not panic : "Too Late", "The Weight of Time", "Time Goes by like a Train", expressing universal feelings of regret - and even fear of looming death. At 22 years old, she already has a strong grasp of the collective unconscious.
But the poetry of her images vastly undermines their darkness, and they paradoxically infuse the viewer with lightheartedness and pleasure. Many of them are actually so charming that they even inspire genuine joy. They tell long stories and ignite the imagination, which is something De Waroquier certainly doesn't lack. The constant touch of surrealism bathes her work in a dreamy questioning of the boundaries of reality. The fantasy world she has created is wildly attractive because it also catches the moments we all recognize as the brief, ephemeral happinesses that sometimes cross our path - a quiet hour of reading, the warmth of a cup of tea, or even, the exultant feeling of aloneness in a wide, empty landscape.
She plays with light and depth of field the way we wish the world really appeared; soft and glowing, enveloping, brimming with eye-catching details that we too often overlook. We're suddenly reminded of lovely yet forgotten every day sensations - like the feel of a warm wood floor under our toes, or the rough texture of a mandarine. Some of her photographs even bring back the chest-constricting elation of our adolescent love-letter writing.
For a while after browsing through her work, reality appears slightly more vibrant, more hopeful, more worthy of a second look. She says so herself: "I prefer to show the world as it could be."
For a look at her portfolio, visit http://www.juliedewaroquier.com