Pictura Gallery

Charles Xelot | White Water

June 13, 2024| curatorial

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The gallery has been transformed with Charles Xelot’s photographs of seafarers navigating icy arctic waters. Charles Xelot is the 2024 winner of the prestigious Life Framer Series Award, juried by Pictura Gallery’s Co-Curators, Mia Dalglish and Lisa Woodward.

Curatorial Statement

Charles Xelot’s images play out a drama, where the extraordinary natural light of the sky clashes with the high powered, man-made illumination from icebreakers and oil tankers. Inside the vessels, Xelot photographs with sensitivity to the inner lives of the sailors, scaling down his compositions to the tight living quarters of the crew. The close stillness of the portraits shows the emotional landscape of sailors who live for months drifting through the ice.

In this installation, portraits were kept small for a sense of scale, one where humans are vulnerable to the frozen ocean. They are dwarfed by the imposing machinery of the ships required to navigate it all.

Other elements of the exhibition are meant to echo time on the ice, and the vast and ever present sea. A single vantage from a ship is shown three times. The view becomes a window to the constant horizon, whose only change is marked by shifts in light. These prints were housed in diasec, a kind of acrylic sandwich, forming a glassy case like a thick slab of ice.

The breadth of White Water is both intimate and grand. Xelot renders subjects of massive scale, in a way that you really feel their size and weight. The project succeeds in conveying the magnitude of the arctic sea and her vessels, and the gravity of the risks involved in crossing the ice. In seeking to understand human and environmental concerns, White Water makes the physical difficulties of moving energy very real.

- Mia Dalglish + Lisa Woodward

See full exhibition info here.

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