One of my favorite contemporary photographers just happens to be an entity–a pair of identical twin sisters–and they just happen to hail from the capital of Ukraine. I’m quite sure you’ve heard of the small but mighty Kyiv. And while the people of Kyiv and the region itself are under siege, I would like to take a moment to celebrate my artistic friends from this tenacious city. Allow me to introduce you to Dasha and Mari, who lensed the photos in this article.
I often refer to the sisters in the singular form, ie. — “Her,” or “She;” in fact, the twins even write about themselves in first-person. That’s because these gorgeous gals share such a united vision in their psychologically-complex work. Often, themes of duality surface, as seen in the figure, trapped in the window reflection, below.
There’s a dark duality in the chilling portrait above. Ditto for the image below. Dasha and Mari prove that two heads are better than one in this chic image of duality, one model’s profile shrouded in darkness……and the other’s exquisite profile, in jarring bright daylight. Just what is this dynamic duo trying to say?
I love the sinful yet simultaneously innocent elements in the episodic shot below, which is ripe with dark psychological and religious implications–a curiously cinematic capture, all while celebrating the female form. In Dasha and Mari’s world we see recurring imagery of perfect breasts, and long, coltish legs aplenty.
Inspiration is everywhere for this award-winning photographer duo, who received a Master’s degree from Kingston University in London, and are now based in Germany but travel globally for interesting projects. From art to religion to war, the sisters draw ideas from the very culture surrounding them. Their identical DNA allows them to execute a singular, flawless vision, sometimes with two cameras but often with just one.
Together, the twins create the most lovely, tender portraits of women in soft, painterly palettes, adorned with pearls and flowers, ribbons and bows, above. The gentle nature of the female is combined with a disarming solidarity. Dasha and Mari emphasize the oddly-elegant with an abundant use of hats and headwraps to add a faraway, decorous feel and a fanciful dreaminess.
Each narrative is a short, compelling story matched with perfect lighting and intriguing, beautiful subjects. Each capture, a study in duality and eroticism.
I love the discerning dichotomy of ‘Butterfly,’ below. Dark fingernails and downward-cast eyes speak of sinner, while celestial lighting and a beguiling costume speak of saint. A fragile butterfly perches on the lips of the model, as if too delicate for words.
The chalky lavender palette and a transfixed gaze with haunting, wide-set eyes are the focus, quite literally, of this partial-nude, partial-dressed, but unequivocally ethereal capture. The exotic turban speaks of a beautiful incontinuity–another time and place–and the model is expertly bathed in soft, diffused light.
Below, the twins channel a cabaret innuendo which is both slightly burlesque and steeped in voyeurism. Naughtily bawdy and unrestrained, the model poses irreverently with a flower tucked between her toes yet with the gravest facial expression possible. The dichotomy is unnerving and complex.
A great millinery capture, below, plays with print and pattern, as well as position. The hat, expertly-placed on the head for maximum mystery, cloaks the eyes altogether and defines the composition in an unexpected way.
Stay tuned for more features on contemporary Ukrainian artists, coming up…as we honor the determination and creativity of the people of Ukraine….only on Beauty Shall Save the World.