Mushtaq Bhat

Works In Pastel

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Biarritz 1909_ pastel drawing

Biarritz 1909

(Dynamic Stillness or Tidal Mantra)


Private Collection

After Jaques-Henri Lartigue
Photo: Zissou At The Adour Bore, Biarritz 1909
Source: Pantheon Books, NYC 1986

This work and two others (Trilogy Lartigue _ see Gallery Pastel for the other two) were inspired through a visit to an exhibition (Photography of Lartigue) in Bass Musuem, Miami, 1989.

The Lartigue Collection consists of a wide array of photographs, with variety of themes. Many of them however reveal an, evidently deeply felt, inclination for water, waves and the beach or coastlines. In some rare cases, the people may even appear as merely decorative elements. There are however other pictures, where the themes concern doubtlessly the humans and human activity. But in some of his pictures, I felt this implicit acknowledgement of the soothing meditative vibes of the constellations, water, waves and land and in contrast, but nevertheless not infinitely removed from it, men and women!

A whole series of photographs of Atlantic beaches, depicting generally prosperous urbanites engrossed in varied activities. Quite often the pictures are wide angled panoramic perspectives and despite, for his time, the great advances in industry, still mixed with a artistic romantic sensibilities toward nature. His pictures seem to depict to me the end of something still ancient, and the coming of something completely new. The beach was still symbolic of nature, arousing a child's curiosity, a place for natural spontaneous discoveries and nature's investigation and above all a place for meditation.

In 1909 the lakes, seas, and the oceans and the beaches had not been transformed to to bikini-sport places. One can somehow feel, the potential for development of these places, but there is a bit of romantic reverence evident nonetheless. With the advent of the bikini-culture, it seems that the European has lost this kind of sensitivity completely. And the more prosperous Asians will probably be following suit!

A beach is nowadays only a potential estate for tourist development. And more aesthetic it is, the more the potential! It is no more a place for meditation but 100% activity. And it would be not so bad, but for that unfortunate fact that all other living beings _ from bryophytes and crustacean to angiosperms and the birds _ don't exist anymore. They are all overlooked, so that all those naked bodies with their city-paraphernalia and primate-jungle noise, can exhibit themselves, their acquired assets, the current fashions and worship the sun. These other poor evolutionary vestigial co-Inhabitants just don't exist. They are hardly ever seen, because the attention is fully riveted on the primate member Homo sapiens and his/her achievements. And paradoxically, some other members of even the same species can also be overlooked _ the natives!