An artful exploration of yoga

Hudson Valley photographer Francesco Mastalia’s latest book will be celebrated with a solo exhibition and book signing at bau Gallery in Beacon.

We love the interconnectedness of the arts community in our region, of which we’ve had yet another example.

Nelsonville artist Carla Goldberg, profiled in our June 2015 issue, has shared some news about a new exhibition at bau (Beacon Artists Union) Gallery in Beacon.

And, we were delighted to hear, it’s devoted to another artist featured in our pages, Hudson Valley photographer Francesco Mastalia. We explored his book “Organic: Farmers and Chefs of the Hudson Valley” in the July 2015 issue.

And now, the Main Gallery at bau is hosting an exhibition, “Francesco Mastalia: YOGA,” from April 14 through May 6. The solo exhibition will be devoted to his series of photographs of Yoga masters.

As the gallery shares in press materials, “Mastalia blends an antique lens and modern photographic printing to capture his subject matter. It is at once timeless and dreamy, engaging the viewer in an other-worldly space.”

In more detail, it’s as Mastalia explores in his exhibit statement:

In silence, ask the questions, ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ ‘What is our ultimate purpose on this planet?’

“What began as a photographic journey to explore the physical practice of yoga, unexpectedly transformed into an enlightening odyssey that revealed answers to these mystifying questions.

“Yoga is defined in many ways. Some say you can’t teach yoga, it is something you experience. It is indescribable.

“‘YOGA The Secret of Life’ explores the personal experiences of 108 of today’s leading practitioners and how this ancient practice has transformed their mind, body and spirit. It delves deep into the purpose of our existence and how to live a happy, fulfilled life and understand who we truly are.

“The photographs were taken on glass plates using the wet-collodion process, a photographic technique dating back to the 1850s. As a manual art this labor-intensive craft requires each step be performed by hand. During its fragile journey, it is essential that the glass plate be sensitized, exposed, developed and fixed while remaining wet. Emerging as a positive image on glass, an ‘ambrotype’ is miraculously brought to light by a divine force. “Using time to record the energy of light, the collodion image transports us to another place and time. When the light-sensitive chemicals absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays we enter a mysterious world where art and alchemy embrace and the image reveals itself.

“This union unveils the synergy between the yogi, photographer, and flow of the universe. As the exchange of energy is absorbed, it creates a fleeting moment in time, never to exist again. ‘Ambrotype,’ from ancient Greek, means ‘immortal,’ capturing an impression for eternity, its essence revealing the spirit of the soul.”

There will also be a book signing from 6 to 9 p.m. April 14 featuring Mastalia’s “Yoga: The Secret of Life” (224 pages, $60, powerHouse Books).

For more, visit or

– Mary Shustack


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