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Updated: January 19, 2011 20:22 IST

Two colours of life

SRAVASTI DATTA
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Photographer Madhavi Swarup. Photo: Special Arrangement
Special Arrangement Photographer Madhavi Swarup. Photo: Special Arrangement

Photographer Madhavi Swarup shoots from the heart

There's never a dull moment in ace photographer Madhavi Swarup's life. “My eyes are filled with visual elements. I never set up my shots. Photography is not an intellectual exercise for me; I rely on my instincts while choosing a subject or a locale to shoot.”

Photography for this fine art photographer is an expression of her innermost self.

Her ongoing exhibition “Duality”, a series of black-and-white landscape and architectural images on display at Sua Art Gallery, explores the contradiction inherent in our lives: light versus dark, good versus evil. “White, which shows the calm in us, signifies light, airiness and spirituality. Black, in contrast, is the negative in us.”

On a closer look, however, white is predominant in her images. “It's deliberate,” Madhavi explains “because white is extremely powerful. It harmonises all distractions.”

For Madhavi, photographing a colourful world in black and white allows a viewer to re-interpret an everyday image or scenario; these colours also adds an element of mystery to the photograph. “I have done portraitures of famous personalities such as Karan Johar and Abida Parveen, and all of them are in black-and-white.”

Why? I ask. “In the real world, we see a personality in resplendent colours, which is essential to depict them as larger-than-life. But when captured in shades of grey, the real person emerges. A characteristic smile or a twinkle in the eye is sharply revealed. There is no confusion; there is more room for the viewer to focus on his eyes, face and emotions.”

Madhavi has specialised in architectural photography, which she considers “not merely images of buildings, but of photographing architectural spaces.”

She holds up one of her photographs of a flight of stairs in luminescent white and explains: “Structures such as a window and stairs are normally seen as strong, but when you look at these stairs, set against a white background, it looks lighter, softer,” says the photographer who won a special commendation from Christie's international art director.

Madhavi is also a Visharad in Kathak, which finds expression in her works in the form of fluid movements. “I haven't danced in a while. But it has helped me in many ways. It has made me agile, which is needed to move, bend and sit for long hours while photographing.”

She believes that a photograph speaks a thousand words and that it is the only medium that can keep a moment eternal.

“Isn't it wonderful that a fleeting moment can be caught so spontaneously?” Madhavi says with enthusiasm.

Though technicalities such as tonal value, light direction, framing etc. are important for a photographer, it is essential that a person shoots from their heart.

“Photography is completely self driven. You must open your soul and eyes, and be motivated to express yourself in different ways through images.”

Madhavi believes that her images manage to draw people because they are “minimal, spontaneous and evoke questions in their minds.”

“Duality” is on display at Sua House, 26/1, Kasturba Cross Road (near British Library) till January 24, from 10 a.m. till 7 p.m., except Sundays.


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