Gurgaon-based art curation company Masha Art presents ‘Rediscover Hampi’, a photo exhibition showcasing the photographic journey of majestic and even unseen Hampi from the lens of Delhi-based photographer Manoj Arora.
The city of Delhi is all set to host a unique photo exhibition on the capital of the medieval-era Vijayanagara Empire. Yes, you guessed it right! We are talking about Hampi, which is located on the banks of river Thungabhadra in present-day Karnataka. It wouldn’t be wrong to look upon it is a window to southern India’s rich and vibrant history. Capturing the many moods of the ancient city, Gurgaon-based art curation company Masha Art presents ‘Rediscover Hampi’—a photo exhibition showcasing the photographic journey of majestic and even unseen Hampi from the lens of Delhi-based photographer Manoj Arora. The 10-day show which will be on display at the Bikaner House from 13-22 September, 2022 is curated by noted art critic Uma Nair.
Arora believes that mastering the technical skills to create the perfect photo isn’t enough. Without vision, a photo is just a pretty picture with no meaning or soul. For, it doesn’t engage with the viewer and therefore it is not memorable. All the photographs that are a part of ‘Rediscover Hampi’ are entirely shot by Arora during prolonged spells of Covid-19. Recalling beautiful sunsets across the silent ruins of Hampi, Arora says, “You cannot describe in words the beauty of this timeless place. The relief-rich mouldings, columns and friezes are both divine and demon-like. The artworks on animals are both realist and mythical, truly magical.”
Nair describes Arora’s ‘Rediscover Hampi’ as “a suite of photographs that unveil the historical beauty of Hampi as well as its narrative expression born within its stone sculptures and monuments.” While pandemic has proven to be detrimental at many levels, it has also pushed artists to think differently. Take, for example, the idea of turning to art photography and culture specific engagements that soothes the mind and kept it alive. “The exercise of discovering a lost heritage adds to one’s knowledge of history and one’s sensibility. The pandemic made many humans turn to art and create albums of history experience and memory,” explains Nair. Masha Art CEO Samarth Mathur expressed pleasure over ‘Rediscover Hampi’ being the gallery’s first show at Bikaner House. “The exhibition will generate pride and reverence for India’s heritage that goes back to generations,” he rejoiced.
According to Nair, Hampi remains one of the most striking sites in the world. “As a curator, one is constantly on the lookout for something unique and intriguing, and something than can add to the growth and development of the arts. A curator’s role is to add to the history of creating shows that are unforgettable. Hampi is one such place that belongs to the leaves of history,” opines Nair. She further explains, “Ultimate capital of the last of the great kingdoms of South India, enriched by the cotton and spice trade, Hampi was one of the most beautiful cities of the medieval world, haloed with palaces and Dravidian temples covered with jewels. Manoj Arora discovered Hampi as a Mecca of beauty, but difficult to access. The seven-hour journey from Bangalore, over bumpy roads overloaded with trucks, keeps it out of the reach of the tourists.”
Nair adds, “These images at the heart of Arora’s practice is narrative assemblage; he explores the nature of Hampi as a place of artistic expression and modality, placing it on a historical, geographical and socio-political principles that are discursively powerful, as well as personally resonant. His expressionist images of Hampi’s most important monuments, its temple murals and the gods and goddesses carved in stone captured in the refractive indices of the sunset present an enriching post-pandemic theory, which reflects in the firmament and is in favour of the dynamic, as well as collective possibilities of the Vijayanagara kingdom.”
For Arora, photography is not just about expressing himself. “Some would say photography is not just self-expression, it expresses or even defines who we are. My challenge always has been to present my photography in such a manner that it should be able to engage the viewer and make my perspective the perspective of the viewer, it should be able to tell the story and it should be able to ignite the thoughts within viewers mind. That has always been my endeavor and that is what gives me satisfaction as a photographer,” asserts Arora who has been a trained lensman in the profession for a decade.