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Coastline

By  Roy Mehta 1998 - 2003
Roy Mehta draws inspiration from the British coastline for his latest exhibition at the Tom Blau Gallery. Taken over the last seven years, the work is a social document of life along the British coast from Brighton to the Outer Hebrides. The sea and sky hold prominence in every frame and serve as a backdrop to the figures in the foreground; families, lovers, friends and strangers. The dominating seascape affects the viewer's reaction to the images. When the skyline is dull and grey this appears to be reflected in the emotions of Mehta's subjects. For him perhaps a lucky coincidence? Or was it Mehta's intention to play on the relationship between colour and emotion. Sadness is set against a grey background while young love is shot in warm sunlight with a perfect blue sky. Mehta is careful to keep a distance between photographer and subject to ensure that he does not taint the subjects' emotions that weigh heavy within the frame. Abstract views views of the coast offer relief from his emotionally charged portraits. A solid blue sky against a mottled concrete sea defence creates a tranquil landscape that has a paint like quality to it. At the heart of this project Mehta questions out national identity. He places his subjects at the edge of the sea and on the edge of life. Forget pictures of happy holiday makers in Kiss me Quick Hats, Mehta's work has a vulnerability about it that is far removed from any romantic view of the seaside. Dawn Sumner © BJP 2003

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