"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." — Marcel Proust
Seven years ago, Portugal did present 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. Returning to this specific place, I've sought out its nuances. In doing so, I have peeled back layers of how I see, and how I experience this magical environment. The results of my slight obsession have evolved into two distinct series. Here are two images from To Praia Grande, a body of work focusing on a singular, secluded beachfront in which all of the pictures are taken from essentially the same elevated angle. What the still life was for Morandi, this beach is for me. From a distance, I observe the variables: light, weather, time of day, the ebb and flow of the ocean and 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 ethereal yet playful nook in nature over the minutes, the days, the years. Ultimately, I try to instill an element of time within these captured moments: visceral time, elastic from one image to another. And always, I seek to have new eyes.
Christian Chaize, a self-taught artist, lives and works in Lyon, France. In 1992, he was awarded the Prix European Panorama de Kodak for Young European Photographer in Arles, France. In 2004, Chaize became intrigued by a small stretch of coastline in southern Portugal. Itching an artistic scratch, he began shooting what was then an entirely new subject matter for him. Using medium- and large-format cameras, his commitment to photographing a single beach front several times a year since then is now evident in the series Praia Piquinia
. This work has been the focus of two one-man museum shows in Portugal, as well as gallery exhibitions in New York, Berlin and Lyon. Among other publications, it has been featured in The Collector's Guide to New Art Photography Vol. 2
, BLINK MAGAZINE, Issue No. 13 and Elle Decor
. In addition to its popularity on 20x200, Praia Piquinia
is also the subject of Chaize's first monograph, published by Chronicle Books for release in the spring of 2013. Paradis
, images made in the Seychelles, and To Praia Grande
, a separate beach series shot in Portugal, have also been exhibited in New York and Berlin, respectively. Future projects will continue to reveal his interest in enlightening the way we look at something that has otherwise become banal, or merely familiar. In the words of Marcel Proust, and in the tradition of all the great modern photographers who came before him, Chaize is always seeking to "have new eyes."