She the Beautiful

Salt Pans #20, Little Rann of Kutch, India, 2016

Edward Burtynsky
Salt Pans | Essential Elements

Only Lucien Freud could create an oily palette of flesh tones like this. A smorgasbord of skin shades leading from a subtle yellowy-green, through to the blush pink of a teenager newly in love and on to the dark brown of a wild horse’s mane. Or could this be part of Pat McGrath’s make-up arsenal? What about Josef Albers and his Homage to a Square series? He showed us how beautifully colours can dance together, just like this.

In truth, these gem-like rectangles are segments of land in Gujarat, India,photographed by Edward Burtynsky, whose work focuses on nature transformed through industry and human ingenuity. This series is called Salt Pans and the abstract two-dimensional marks upon the landscape are created by humans. Freud did not paint Benefits Supervisor Sleeping with this palette, nor did Pat McGrath create the catwalk look for Autumn/Winter 2016 with these alluring shades. This is land transformed into salt pans by poorly-paid Agariya workers, who use an ancient method of extraction to provide us with one of the most basic elements of our diet.

Our earth looks beautiful. Majestic what she provides for us. But is she weeping?

Salt Pans #10, Little Rann of Kutch Gujarat of India 2016

Salt Pans/Essential Elements is at Flowers Gallery in London until 29 October 2016. The first edition of Salt Pans is released by this month, €68.