Graham French


Artist Statement

Lencois Maranhenses, which translates to “bedsheets of Maranhao” in English, is a magical place by any name. Having recovered from the 16-hour journey from Rio, when the sun rose my first morning in Santo Amaro unveiling a vast, undulating sea of sand spotted with inky black lagoons, I could not wait to get started.

Clouds swept across the sky as the relentless winds created the shifting interplay of light and shadow across the sand. These monochromatic contrasts, reminiscent of photographic negatives, produced a misleading sense of stillness, familiar to me from my ‘Cloudscapes’ project. My art exists in this elemental dichotomy, the dissonance produced by the attempt to capture the truth of landscapes in constant motion through the stasis inherent to photography.

Fascinated by the deceptive calm, I began to shoot. The results, which are displayed here, form the beginnings of an exploration of the unique tension between sand, wind and water that exists in Lencois Maranhenses.

The rich textures and smoothed surfaces produce a dark and undeniable eroticism; any notion of prettiness here is overcome by the intensity of a landscape that challenges any formal sense of distance. Against a backdrop of towering white sand a nearby ridge may be a far off dune. Small details in the distance take on a solemn importance. They are evidence of life in a landscape where erasure is a repetitious theme.

The coming of each day produces distinct and dramatic changes in this place; however, one’s deepest appreciation of this landscape comes from the undeniable truth of how long it has been here, blindingly bright and untarnished by time. I am humbled and delighted to be able to share it with you.