I have worked with photographer Christian Chaize for many many years. It has been such a pleasure to watch this series and story unfold. Chaize has faithfully returned to the same beach in Portugal, taking photographs from approximately the same elevated angle to create the images in his series Praia Piquinia. Vertically oriented — a departure from the horizontal format traditional to landscape photography — the photographs become, through their repetition, intimate portraits of a place. A counterpoint to seascape greats Massimo Vitali and Richard Misrach, Chaize’s images expose the subtle nuances of this particular beach and playfully render the passage of time through otherwise un-photographed (and therefore unobserved) changes in light, tides, the weather and the beachgoers’ configurations. The photographs become, as Jen Bekman, the founder of Jen Bekman Gallery notes, “less about humanity and more about being human.”
From the statement of the work.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust
In 2004, Portugal presented itself as a new landscape in my life – both literally and metaphorically. Since then, I have photographed exclusively along a very small stretch of its southern coastline. Traveling there from France several times a year, I’ve observed its nuances, noting what changes, what stays constant…the subtle and dramatic shifts in its personality, if you will. Year after year, I not only continue to experience the mystery of its appeal, I find I am more deeply intrigued.
The results of my obsession have developed into two distinct series. This is an image from Praia Piquinia, a body of work focusing on a singular, secluded beachfront in which all of the pictures are taken from what is essentially the same elevated angle. What the still-life was for Morandi, the haystack for Monet…this beach is that for me. From a distance, I observe the variables: light, weather, time of day, the ebb and flow of the ocean and most importantly, the sunbathers, unaware, below my large-format camera. The images are shot vertically, a departure from the traditional, horizontal format in landscape photography. It puts my subject matter in the form of a portrait—an ongoing record of this corner of nature (and human nature), over the minutes, the days, the years. Ultimately, I try to instill an element of time within these captured moment…visceral time, elastic from one image to another.
Praia Piquinia has peeled back layers in how I see and, as a result, in how I experience my journeys there. Together, we are evolving. The place is the same, but as always, I seek to have new eyes