As I drove towards Arpana Art Gallery, locating this place wasn’t bothering me as much as my fear and phobia of the snootiness of the art tribe of this country. Yes, the artists, for some strange reason that only they can possibly explain, generally tend to gravitate into a tight group that then becomes impenetrable.
‘Why do artists build a fortress around themselves?’ I asked Specky as I manoeuvred our car into the parking slot of Siri Fort Auditorium. She looked at me with surprise and asked, ‘Aren’t we all artists in some way or the other?’
Now I was genuinely foxed. She was correct… and yet, I wasn’t altogether wrong. Artists, I have discovered over years, have tended to evolve into a sort of commercial suaveness that prevents them from interacting freely with people who aren’t going to be useful to them. Commercial instincts overrule interactive giggles, so to say. By the way, when I mention ‘artists’ I mean those who use the brush, the ones who peer through a camera and even those who pen their thoughts. These metaphors have changed lately, for instance, the pen-pushers are merrily punching words on their laptops or gliding their fingers over tabs and swyping interestingly fresh expressions. Well, I am talking about those who feel they somehow ‘express’ or portray the truth of life and living through lines!
‘Writers, painters, and even photographers are line-pushers,’ I mumbled, as we made our way through the wrought iron gate and into the precincts of Arpana Art Gallery where we wanted to see this photography exhibition: ‘FAITHfully Yours?’
Specky was puzzled and asked, ‘Painters draw lines and writers or poets write them… but how do you link lines with photographers?’
‘Ah! Photographers peer through their lenses and wait until the right light, the right expression, and the right objects are lined up the way their sensibility wants them to,’ I said, ‘and only then do they click!’
And as we stepped into the hall where photographs of seven young photographers were displayed, I knew it was going to be a long and memorable evening of a great conversation with real art!
V J Sharma, one of these seven photographers is a great friend of ours… well, the truth is that now we have six more added to this list… and we’re actually proud of this fact. I’m sure you’re itching to ask, ‘These artists weren’t the snooty, distanced sort?’
Well, not really… Augustus Mithal had a charming display of his fashion photos where creativity converged into saleable aesthetics by mesmerizing the sensual instincts in mortals! ‘Now, don’t you dare to say that I am just getting into an awesome vortex of hyperbole because I am not accentuating untruth.’ The photographs in this exhibition are all an interpretation of FAITH. Thus we got to see seven interpretations of this strange and enigmatic word.
I realised soon enough that ‘faith’ isn’t just about religion or temples or prayer or priests and pujaris… faith is all about relationships, the connections between the objective and the subjective, the confluence where mortals meet immortality, and where the harshness of reality softly merges into the sublime realms of intense emotions! Thus we went through the works of Ambika Sethi, Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Raajan Sharma, Shilpi Choudhuri, Shivani Punia, V J Sharma, and Augustus Mithal. These photographers are all young professionals from diverse fields ranging from dealing with the bits-n-bytes of Adobe to teaching Art at the Delhi College of Art.
As we slowly made our way through the photo collections of each of these photographers, we realised that they had actually worked on their captions, the accompanying texts… and this made the works all the more endearing and understandable. For instance, I wasn’t just gaping at a picture of a man crossing a busy road… I was being hypnotised by a moment captured. A moment that showed a determined young pro striding unflappably across the road and I could feel his confident advance… and the picture got more exciting when I read the short pithy caption: ‘The warrior.’ So now you know the sort of involved set of young photographers that I’m talking about.
And by the way, this set wasn’t snooty at all… they were, of course, initially shy… but opened up fast enough and were only too eager to talk about their inspirations and their work. Specky looked at me at one point and whispered, ‘Aren’t you glad we decided to come here?’
The truth is that by the time we completed seeing all the exhibited pictures, I had changed my opinion of this set of artists and was waiting to call them the ‘new-age warriors’ instead of ‘pretentious artists’. Well, we did have a lot of interesting small discussions on photography and how to handle subjects, moments, and inspirations… but then I’ll be talking about that in a different post. This one needs me to focus on the fact that this exhibition is going to be there until the 17th of March and is worth a visit!
There were moments in front of me… moments that told an entire story, and so I asked V J, ‘How do you decide when to click?’
He replied, ‘At times it happens in a fraction of a moment and sometimes one has to wait for hours together to get the right moment. At times even days. I’d say a lot of luck too enters good picture-taking.’
‘Are these pictures a part of your old collection?’
Shivani told me that many of the photographs were clicked once the group had got together and finalised the theme. So a lot of hard-work had been going on these past few months.
This set of young pros were quite eager about sharing their knowledge of the art of photography and so if you happen to be there I’m sure you are going to come out a person who is ready to fall in love with his camera! For instance, Shilpi quoted Ansel Adams who had said that ‘you don’t take a photograph, you make it.’ She added that photography needs a creative vision that gets better by the day… so skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by merely purchasing an expensive camera! I agreed with her.
The truth is that one learns by practice just as much as one learns by looking at the works of good and accomplished artists. It is thus essential for those who wish to take reasonably good photographs to be finally getting and moving out of their houses to visit exhibitions like this one.
A photo art exhibition
08 March to 17 March 2013
Here are a few pictures that I clicked, while we were there…
Ambika Sethi: email@example.com
Augustus Mithal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rajesh Ramakrishnan: email@example.com
Raajan Sharma: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shilpi Choudhuri: email@example.com
Shivani Punia: firstname.lastname@example.org
V J Sharma: VJ@travellingcamera.com
12 March 2013