Psyché Ophiuchus and Yoann Lossel both believe that all of life is art, a philosophy shared by many artists of the Art Nouveau era, whose work defined an aesthetic across such varied media as painting, architecture, fashion, jewelry, and photography. Ophiuchus and Lossel have created their own world that uses all of these and more, and reflects the love they have for each other, for the act of creation, and for the eras of the past that so fascinate them.
Lossel and Ophiuchus both acknowledge the special inspiration that Art Nouveau has had in their work and in their lives. “Personally,” says Lossel, “I think it’s one of the artistic movements that went the furthest in its aesthetic approach, succeeding in bringing together the pictorial themes and the decorative art with virtuosity. I find everything I love in it: the interweaving of patterns, the association of materials, subtle and balanced curves, and an obvious homage to nature and to women. It is an art of observation, which seeks to represent the world with grace.”
Ophiuchus agrees. “Art Nouveau is an endless source of reverie and wonders! From an aesthetic point of view, I feel perfectly in sync with its curvaceous vision. There is a dreamlike dimension that I feel close to. Although my medium is photography, I am very influenced by the illustration, the unrealistic aspect of representations from the Art Nouveau movement.”
This modern renaissance couple don’t settle for just one or two outlets for their creativity. They explore every means of creating that they can try—jewelry making, creating their own clothes, Lossel’s graphite and gold leaf paintings, Ophiuchus’ photography, even remaking their shoes to fit their artistic visions. They also explore the world around them, traveling to museums and enchanting natural locales across Europe, dressed in frock coats and vests and Art Nouveau gowns and headpieces, taking each other’s photographs in beautiful images that look much more like paintings than travel snapshots, and absorbing the work of artists who have come before them.
Lossel describes an especially memorable portrait of Ophiuchus taken at Watts Chapel in Surrey. “The silhouette of Psyché in Watts Cemetery Chapel, at dawn, after a sleepless night crossing the English Channel, is absolutely magical. There is nothing dissonant in her presence in this place; she harmonizes with the art that surrounds her.”
The love and admiration with which Lossel speaks of Ophiuchus are undeniable. The two met four years ago, when she posed for one of his paintings. The two arranged to meet
in the forest of Brocéliande, under a tree called the Oak in Water, so that she could pose for the central figure in a work he planned to call The Fall. But instead, as he puts it, “Indeed, we fell—in love. I had to change the title of the painting: I wanted it to be a rise, for her, so it is now called The Rise.”
Since then, she has shown up in many of his paintings. When I ask if Lossel ever poses for Ophiuchus too, she responds, “I want to take more photos of the one that illuminates my life. Yoann, with his beauty, our strong complicity, and our common aestheticism, is an ideal muse!”
Life is not just about the moments of artistic sublimity and epic inspirational travels for the couple, however. They also enjoy simple daily moments of whimsy and humor. “Yoann and I play a lot,” Ophiuchus says. “We are like two children who have just met. We love to tell imaginary stories. If I forgot to put away my clothes and they lie around, it’s because a fairy woman has likely disappeared right here. For us, our daily life is playing together and taking care of each other.”
Lossel and Ophiuchus are currently planning their upcoming nuptials, and one can only imagine what an artistic creation that will be. “We are working on the decoration,” Ophiuchus says. “I cannot reveal more, as it is a surprise for our loved ones, but I can tell you that the Art Nouveau headdress in these photos (page 104) will be my wedding headpiece, made by us.”
“Art is the center of our story,” Lossel says. “We have been working together since we met, creating objects, sewing, painting, and collaborating on various artistic projects.” Some of these projects the couple shares with their friends and followers on social media, but others are kept just for themselves and each other to enjoy: “I think what gives meaning to your life is the depth you give it,” says Lossel. “You must be the hero of your own story, even and especially if you’re the only spectator.”