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Updated: September 6, 2013 20:03 IST

It’s a beautiful world

Harshini Vakkalanka
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One of Michael Kenna's photos.
Special Arrangement One of Michael Kenna's photos.

Each frame in Michael Kenna’s exhibition is an opportunity to bask in stillness

The ships at thes Gateway of India are blurry, sometimes twinkling shapes. The sky is light at the horizon and streaked with dark above. Small islands loom in the centre.

Time itself, contained in a moment, has stretched; it seems like a vast expanse. And Michael Kenna, through his lens is watching the world, in time and space, with a patience that seems almost otherworldly.

Through his long exposures on film, human presence or human objects fades to the background as the vastness of nature, of the landscape takes over. Michael’s journey, all in black and white, takes him through the sights of Asia across India, Thailand and Vietnam, China, Japan and South Korea.

He photographs Indian architecture in Delhi’s Safdar Jung reflected in the waters in front of the monument and the Jantar Mantar observatory looming against the day sky, the misty mountains of Munnar with its tea gardens, the backwaters of Kerala with the molten sunlight seeping out from behind the dark clouds and a lone boatman in the distance.

Michael captures the snowy mountains of China, snow clad trees, silver birches, mountains shrouded in mist, pagodas rising against the mist and the vast valleys with the rolling mountains, whose shade of blue is vivid in the mind.

He captures the winter sea in Japan, snow covered piers against grey skies and a dark, glassy sea, sand gardens that look like grasslands, fences and forests on snowy slopes, a lone tree on a frozen lake, sunflowers on a frozen field.

Micheal captures all his photographs in black and white, taking away and giving at the same time as the viewer is transported to the location, his mind filling in the colours. Sometimes, as in his snow-scapes where the only elements are the earth, the sky and the trees or the fences, the viewer does not even feel the absence of colour in the rich monochromes.

He presents the vastness of the sky, the sea or the earth in seven and a half inch squares (of silver gelatine prints, which he develops himself), which somehow seems to bring the window of the landscape closer, making it seem more real and vivid.

His long exposures, sometimes left overnight, reinforce the stillness while negating the movement and perhaps it is the pristine stillness, with the slow light in the sky that makes it all seem so ethereal, almost heavenly.

“Michael Kenna: A Journey Through Asia” has been organised by Tasveer in collaboration with arttd’inox, in partnership with Vacheron Constantin, will be on view at Tasveer, Sua House, 26/1 Kasturba Cross Road until October 30. For details, contact annu@tasveerarts.com.

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