37 Indian Still Lifes, the ongoing exhibition at Cinnamon, explores contemporary India through the rather static form of still life
A country is not only defined by its people and their lifestyle but also understood through its architecture and tradition. Stacks of yellowing and frayed bundles of papers arranged neatly at government offices; an aluminium vessel with water on the boil in a rural setting; a flight of stairs in an old Victorian building; narrow rat-lanes of cobblestones within bigger cities — these are some of the images with which one would identify India.
This forms the central theme at the ongoing exhibition 37 Indian Still Lifes on display at Cinnamon, presented by Glenfiddich and Tasveer Art Gallery.
Although portraiture and documentary photography are popular genres, still life photography is no less captivating. In this form of photography, the photographer has control over lighting and composition. Objects are arranged in an aesthetic manner to create a particular atmosphere.
37 Indian Still Lifes, featuring the works of 37 of India’s leading working photographers, including Karen Knorr, Vivek Vilasini, Saibal Das, Mahesh Shantaram, Neeta Madahar and Jyothi Bhatt among others, explore still life within the Indian context. So far, the social documentary of Indian photographers has been the preferred medium to understand Indian history and politics. Tasveer’s endeavour, through this exhibition, is to evolve a new way of looking at contemporary Indian society.
So, the images on display are not only works of art but also a telling commentary on what defines modern India.
The photographers, through their skilful arrangement of elements, have infused life into the images. Gireesh G.V’s Objects Desired and Discarded has amid rusted, useless objects, a picture of a woman’s body in a bikini.
There are photographs that document common spaces that we often don’t notice or take for granted, for example Pradip Malde’s Bathroom in Jodhpur. Donor’s List and Barren Wall taken by Rajesh Vora from the 1980s and 2000, and Bijoy Chowdhury’s The Door, from the Letter Box Series represent a lost tradition. Blades of Grass by Prarthana Modi though simple in its theme, is powerful for its composition.
37 Indian Still Lifes will be on display till September 14 at Cinnamon, 11 Walton Road, off Lavelle Road, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For details call 40535212.