Ouka Leele, a Spanish photographer, artist, and poet who was part of the Movida Madrilea cultural boom that followed the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, died at the age of 64.
Leele, born Bárbara Allende Gil de Biedma in 1957 in Madrid, began drawing, painting, and absorbing art history books at a young age. She discovered her own style after studying photography: a chaotic combination of monochromatic photographic pictures overpainted with colorful watercolors.
After stops in Barcelona and New York, he returned to Madrid in 1981, to a city enjoying the creative, debauched, and often destructive early days of Spain’s post-Franco reawakening.
The social and political instability of the time – a smooth return to democracy was far from assured – gave birth to some of Spain’s most well-known artistic personalities, including Leele, director Pedro Almodóvar, and photographer Alberto Garca-Alix.
The artist died on Tuesday in a Madrid hospital after a protracted illness, prompting countless tributes.
Another seasoned historian of the movida, Miguel Trillo, described her as “a person of incomparable trajectory who belonged to a generation that opted not to be like the ones that came before and which embraced the then intellectually minority instrument that was photography.”
Marta Rivera de la Cruz, the regional government of Madrid’s cultural minister, described the artist’s death as “an irreparable loss” for Madrid’s life and culture.