by Magali Chesnel


“A painting is not a picture of an experience; it is an experience.” – Mark Rothko

I deeply think we could all do with a bit more of Rothko’s principles in our way of photographing; insisting on the primacy of raw emotion to push the boundaries of form and color to make photos appear as painting-like as possible.

To test Mr. Rothko’s quotation, I decided to fly above the inspiring Camargue park and the salt marshes of Aigues-Mortes, in Southern France. The experience captures the mind and senses and elevates them to another realm.

The nature of the Camargue is truly spectacular, showcasing Mother Nature’s raw and fragile beauty, which never fails to impress with its shapes and colors.
As saline levels rise during the summer months, the shrimps disappear causing the proliferation of a red seaweed rich in beta carotene known as Dunaliella salina.
Prior to this salty shift, colors in the marsh can vary from lighter shades of green and yellow to vibrant red. The photos combine vivid, natural colors with geometric shapes, creating a series of abstract landscapes that fall somewhere between painting and photography.

The series Painting-like makes reference to famous paintings because they activate powerful emotions in the way Chagall, Rothko, or de Staël’s artwork often does.
These inspired photos were taken with my camera pointing straight down over the Camargue aboard an ultra-light motor aircraft.


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