Anaïs Boileau tells us about her “visually strong, colourful and graphic” pictorial photographic practice

This body of work is concerned with “architecture and different forms of spaces that break the classical architectural pattern”. The idea, Anaïs elaborates, is that buildings can lead to reverie to the point of utopia. “I started with the architectural example of La Grande Motte,” she explains. “This seaside town facing the Mediterranean was built by Jean Balladur in 1969 to allow the French middle class to go on holiday in an exotic and atypical place. The architecture of the town is organic, almost decorative and figurative.” Having taken photographs on-site which served as the basis for the collages, Anaïs then created “a visual atlas of archival images from various sources, which I felt would have been my sources of inspiration if I had been the city’s architect.” The images in the series, therefore, hone in on structure, colour and act as almost fiction architectural research.
Born in Nîmes and now based in the south of France, Anaïs initially pursued a photojournalistic career, but when she attended ECAL discovered she craved something “more artistic and creative”. After graduating with a degree in photography from the Swiss art school, she obtained a master’s in the subject from Central Saint Martins in 2017. In the ensuing years, Anaïs has exhibited around the world, maintaining a personal practice as well as working on commissioned projects.
The spark of an idea for a piece often comes when Anaïs is a spectator, she explains, and she builds resulting projects that toe the line between documentary and fiction. “I also like to create from pictures I’ve taken a long time ago,” she says. “I reopen folders and try to create associations or combinations within a new body of work, and by association, create a narrative story – a thread that guides us through shapes and colours.” This method often leads to collage-like works, particularly evident in Anaïs’ series La Grande Motte.
Part photograph, part collage and part digital painting, Anaïs Boileau’s images are fascinating, to say the least. Hers is a portfolio quite unlike any other we’ve seen before, adeptly jumping between fine art and photography, yet somehow maintaining a consistent visual language and register throughout. “I like to create pictures that are visually strong, colourful and graphic,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I could say that my signature is the way I use light. Most of the time, I photograph in the sunlight, I like to have strong shadows and pastel colours.” Putting a name to her unique practice, Anaïs describes her work as “pictorial photography”.