10 December, 2017

The way we are

Photos: Eric Pickersgill

Text: Rick Wester 

Amercian artist Eric Pickersgill who is known for his photography series Removed was recently in New Delhi in collaboration with Gujral Foundation and app tlkn™. Pickersgill was in India to shoot a similar series like Removed but in colour. These photos are from his earlier series.

In Removed, Pickersgill has taken a portrait of a worldwide culture addicted to connectivity. The subjects in the series are depicted looking at mobile devices, but with the technology removed.  In the portraits of what would be quotidian activities, Pickersgill has subjects maintain their gaze and posture as he physically withdraws the devices from their hands.  A commentary on how isolating being constantly connected can be, the images call into question the societal implication in exchanging digital connectivity for corporeal reality and capture the zeitgeist of the new technologically centered reality of the 21st century.

By eliminating the source connectivity, Pickersgill rescinds the veil of contemporary technology’s hold on our devotion.  The images display a pervading disconnect between the subjects in what should be the most intimate of moments: a friendly social gathering, playtime among small children, a mother with her child. In perhaps the most iconic image from the series, a self-portrait, Angie and Me, Pickersgill and his wife are shown lying in bed. Instead of the young couple sharing the last moments of their day with each other, they lay back-to-back staring into their empty hands, leaving a feeling of isolation and despondency. 

The message in Pickersgill’s work is not a Luddite call to arms, but rather a contemporary version of Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town”. The images call on us to appreciate the interactions of everyday life while we live them or at least to examine what we are losing in ignoring those interactions. Removed awakens us from our technology-fueled stupor and, if only for a moment, to look up.

For further information about this series, please visit


2 December, 2017

Pristine vistas, ruined

Photos: Vicky Roy

Text: Ram Rahman, curator of the show

These photographs by Vicky Roy are from This Scarred Land: New Mountainscapes, an ongoing exhibition at Vadehra Art Gallery. Made entirely in Himachal Pradesh, they are remarkable documents of the hand of man on what was “Dev Bhumi”—a sacred land of the divine. Instead, we are presented with a vision of a scarred land, where man and machine are gouging the earth on a tremendous scale. These are no landscapes of Nainsukh or Roerich—vistas of romance or mystical power. These are seen through the eyes of a cool modernist using the tool of the still camera.

 Capturing the rush to development, Vicky sees the torment of the majestic mountains, rocks, rivers and valleys, as they are being gradually damaged by diesel-spewing machines. From a distance, we are like lines of ants crossing the forest floor. The Himalayas were most memorably photographed by Samuel Bourne in the 19th Century. These photographs are updates on those pristine vistas. The unshackled results of the power of technology which is denuding the forests and pastures have been framed with a modernist gaze —sharp, unsentimental, and with their own terrifying beauty. These are the harbingers of the Kedarnath deluge. These truly are the landscapes of contemporary India.

The show is on view till 30 December at D-53, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi



18 November, 2017

Abstract Indigo

Photos: Ranjan Kaul

Text: Guardian 20

The self-taught artist Ranjan Kaul debuts with his first exhibition Essence of Being at India International Centre. The treatment in his paintings is layered—abstraction and simplification of form with use of varied hues and often heavy and cracked surface textures, suggestive of the abstract lives of their subjects. The backgrounds in his compositions are often muted to emphasise form.

 At other times, the human figure is integrated with the background, the living and non-living melding together as it were. The postures in his works, sometimes awkward, reflect the nuances of human emotion.  According to Kaul, “I indulge in spontaneous expression of my instincts and impulses with my experiments with form, texture and colour, but in a considered and controlled manner. As a humanist and artist, my paintings are thus manifestations of my emotional experiences as an observer of quotidian life.”

The show is on view till 19 November at Delhi’s India International Centre

10 November, 2017

Capturing a Vastness

Photos: Jamia Millia Islamia

Text: Guardian 20

Recently, a photography exhibition, titled Beauty of the Nation, was organised at the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. It featured 43 photographs taken by students from the mass communications department of the college. The show—intended to capture established norms of beauty, cities, spaces, conflict, nature, environment, gender— was curated by professor F.B. Khan. According to Khan, “All powerful stories told in pictures will tug at the viewers’ heart strings, making them question and ask more, share a slice of this vast country that is India and do what photos do best, from the lens of young inquisitive minds, who are also trained eyes at spotting a moment and capturing it for posterity.”

Apart from acting as a platform for students and aspiring photographers looking to showcase their talent, the exhibition brought out glimpses of a vast nation in all its prolific glory.

3 November, 2017

India Through Foreign Eyes

Photos and text: Jutta Jain-Neubauer

Travels of the Prince Waldemar of Prussia to India 1844–46—an  exhibition of selected lithographs offers the opportunity to relive the unique trip of Prince Waldemar of Prussia (1817-1849)—through India! His strong desire to explore the unknown world and to understand other cultures caused Prince Waldemar to start the greatest adventure of his life.

At the age of 27 he started his expedition to India and reached Calcutta in January 1845. The destinations of his field studies included Patna, Kathmandu, Benaras, Delhi, Nainital, as well as the regions of the Himalayas up to Tibet and finally Lahore, Jaipur, Gwalior, Indore, and Bombay. Prince Waldemar was also drawn into the battles of the Anglo-Sikh war of 1844-45. The outcome of this journey to India comprised valuable first-hand observations and innumerable sketches, drawings and water colours. After his early death in 1849, this visual material was published and highly admired, also by Alexander von Humboldt. With these lithographs, beautifully reproduced by the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board, we are able to see “Old India” with the eyes of the prominent traveller from Prussia. The exhibition is curated by art historian—Dr Jutta Jain-Neubauer.

Travels of the Prince Waldemar of Prussia to India 1844–46 is on view at Delhi’s India International Centre till 9 November

31 October, 2017

Under The Hammer

Photos and text: Kochi Biennale Foundation

An array of signature artworks of modern and contemporary masters, ranging from the late Amrita Sher-Gil to A. Ramachandran and from Vivan Sundaram to Subodh Gupta, will come under the hammer as the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) is all set to organise a live and online fundraiser on 31 October in Mumbai to support the upcoming fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB).

In all, artworks of 41 artists will be up for grabs at the auction to be held at Saffronart’s office in Prabhadevi, a southern upscale locality of Mumbai. The registration will start at 7 pm while the auction is to start an hour later at 8 pm. Besides live auctioning, bidding will also take place online, on the phone and on the mobile app of Saffronart—an art auction house.

A preview of these artworks was held on 26 October at the Mumbai offices of Saffronart.

 “This is the only revenue generating effort undertaken by the KBF, and the auction is an unprecedented show of support by the Indian art fraternity for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale as all the works are donations by the artists,” said Bose Krishnamachari, the KBF president.

“These donations by artist-patrons show the faith of the art fraternity in the Biennale and the belief that sustenance for it must come from within. Several of these artists have participated in the previous editions of the Biennale and they are donating for the second time,” he added. 

21 October, 2017

A language of photography

Photos: José Suárez & Insituto Cervantes, New Delhi

Text: Xosé Luis Suarez Canal & Manuel Sendón Trillo

The photo exhibition, José Suárez, 1902-1974, Lively eyes that think, takes viewers on a photographic journey through Spain, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, the UK and Japan capturing the 20th century timelessly by José Suárez, who is considered one of the most innovative and avant-garde artists. He authored a photographic language and formed friendships with intellectuals and artists like Unamuno, Albertí, and Akira Kurosawa among others. 

Including 135 photographs, 111 documents and publications, seven audiovisual montages and more, the exhibition gives an insight into the evolution of the art form of photography itself. 

José Suárez is an absolutely unique photographer within historical Galician photography. His images have very defined characteristics, which can be seen throughout his extensive career as a photographer and are the result of a reflexive and very personal vision that was determined by his rich cultural knowledge. These features endow him with a clear authorship that most historical photographers lack. His entire life was closely linked to photography. His brother Paco recalls that Suárez’s camera was like another part of his anatomy, stating “On the few occasions that I saw him without his camera it seemed as if a part of his body was missing.”

The show is on view at Insituto Cervantes, New Delhi till 10 December. Visitors can view the exhibtion from 5 p.m.  to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays

15 October, 2017

Portrait of India


Photos: The Met Breur, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Text: Mia Fineman

Raghubir Singh (1942–1999) was a pioneer of colour street photography who worked and published prolifically from the late 1960s until his death in 1999 at age 56. Born into an aristocratic family in Rajasthan, Singh resided in Hong Kong, Paris, London, and New York—but his lifelong subject was his native India. The fall 2017 retrospective at The Met Breuer, Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, will situate Singh’s photographic work at the intersection of Western modernism and traditional South Asian modes of picturing the world. It will feature 85 photographs by Singh in counterpoint with the work of his contemporaries—friends, collaborators, fellow travelers—and with examples of Indian court painting styles that inspired him.

The exhibition is organised by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with the cooperation of Succession Raghubir Singh.

The show is on view at The Met Breuer, New York till 2 January 2018


8 October, 2017

King of colours

Photos & text: Raghav Kohli

I became interested in Ravi Varma’s works, some of which are presented here, because of my father, who is a collector and started collecting Ravi Varma oleographs, among other things, in the early 1990s. I grew up with a keen interest in his collection and bought my first oleograoph about six years back. 

The interesting thing about Ravi Varma as an artist is that he mass produced copies of his work in the form of oleographs to make art accessible to the common man at a time when it was mostly patronised by people of wealth or royalty. Unfortunately, many of his original prints were lost in a fire in the printing press and have become extremely rare over the last few years. Today, his works are part of the mainstream. They continue to fetch record sums at art auctions abroad, while at the same time, you can find copies of his iconic Laxmi and Saraswati in so many Indian homes.

30 September, 2017

Of Gods And Men

Photos & text: Qazi Danish Nazir

Ramlila is a folk play on the life of Lord Rama, and is derived essentially from the stories in Ramayana. It is usually played for ten nights straight in this season, culminating on the day of Dussehra when the demon king Raawan is set on fire. The Ramlila affects an entire population and has a dramatic and enduring effect on the lives of the poorest as well as the richest.

I was already fascinated by the socio-cultural importance of the tradition of Ramlila when I decided to visit the Ramlila Sabha at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Delhi. I spent a few days with the theatre artists of this particular Ramlila to get an idea of the training and production they go through. I wanted to understand the physical, emotional and intellectual demands made of such actors playing characters who are regarded by the general public as gods.


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