In taking Tasveer to Paris Photo 2013, its founder, Bangalore-based Abhishek Poddar, does India proud, finds NIRMALA GOVINDARAJAN

The moment is ripe to say kudos to Abhishek Poddar for giving Indian photography its most important platform till date. As the world witnessed India through Tasveer in Paris Photo 2013, between November 14 and 17, Abhishek returns artistically nourished from the experience of having participated in the world’s most important stage for photography. Before he left, his mind was racing at getting his act to match up to the international stage for serious photography. “Being the first South Asian gallery to get in there, initially, we were apprehensive about setting up our booth well,” says Abhishek, adding, “Once there, we were amidst more than 150 booths, with some amazing works on display.”

The portfolio of 17th edition of Paris Photo 2013 read: The world’s top photography fair gathering 136 galleries and 28 publishers under the glass roof of the Grand Palais. Abhishek had a busy start, with not a moment to relax. “With good sales and enormous interest in what we showed, it was very encouraging to see the interest in Indian photography,”

Abhishek concedes that he doesn’t really know what it took to be featured in this photo show extraordinaire. “It’s not on the strength of what you are showing alone, but on what you’ve done in the past,” he says. Having attempted to feature in Paris Photo last year, Abhishek contends that he didn’t do anything different to get selected this year. “We simply continued to strive to do what we do, ranging from selection of images to quality of shows and our publications. When we applied for Paris Photo last year, we were intimated that they were considering us, but we didn’t make the final cut. Fortunately, we got through during our second try this year. If I had made three more attempts, and yet had no call, I’d have probably given up,” he smiles.

Abhishek goes with what his heart tells him. Hands in various professions –between his family business, a stint with a bank and a law firm, his heart has constantly been in the world of Indian art. So, starting 2006, when Abhishek established Tasveer, he went on to curate hundreds of exhibitions. “It’s not been easy,” says Abhishek, adding, “In India, before the meltdown, the art market was booming and there was money sloshing around. Now, with few serious collectors, selling pictures is tough. As a result, we’re looking at Tasveer as an educational space and trying to make the medium easily accessible.”

A serious art form

With initiatives such as the Tasveer Journal—an online magazine on photography and Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) awards for which, the photography section in sponsored by Tasveer, Abhishek has been instrumental in giving wing to several emerging fine art photographers in India. “We want people to look at photography as a serious art form by creating a market for it and building a trade around it.”

In luring fine photographic talent from across the world, and big Indian names to exhibit at Tasveer, there’s much that goes into its framework. “We are looking at photographers who have unique, distinctive ways of telling stories, not big names alone. Towards this, we want to keep pushing the envelope, keep surprising ourselves and in the process the rest of the community.”

Tasveer, functions as a vestibule between the photographer and connoisseur. “With that, photography is here to rule, conquer and dominate. I am not the reason, just a catalyst in this movement,” says Abhishek, for whom Tasveer continues to be a balancing factor between his other businesses. Abhishek is elated at having taken essences of India through the works of Raghu Rai, Derry Moore, Jyoti Bhatt, Vivek Vilasisni, Anna Fox, Karren Knorr and Maimouna Guerresi to the Grand Palais. “I look forward to making it an annual affair,” he beams.

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