Art

Three lensmen join hands for an exhibition to showcase their magic with the camera

A photograph by Balan Madhavan on display at ‘Whisper in Silence’   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

Nature photographer Balan Madhavan still reminisces about the “dream expedition” to Antarctica two years ago. Immortalising his deep impressions during the surreal journey became a pet project. A selection of his frames taken during the trip find pride of place at ‘Whisper in Silence’, a ongoing photography exhibition in the city, which displays works by two other lensmen too, Hariharan Subrahmanian and Suresh Elamon.

With an eclectic mix of landscape, wildlife and candid urban shots, the works represent a contrast of diverse opportunities a medium such as photography offers. For instance, while Balan’s and Suresh’s photographs focus on landscape and wildlife, reinforcing a lensman’s necessity “to be at the right place at the right time”, Hariharan’s composed dexterity with the camera is a hide-and-seek game of light and darkness set in urban interiors.

Balan Madhavan

Balan Madhavan   | Photo Credit: S SIVA SARAVANAN

Hariharan’s carefully crafted chiaroscuro frames, with human subjects at its heart and often in close-ups, act as windows to the inner self. It may not be a coincidence then that three of them – titled ‘Sudha’, ‘Sarah’ and ‘The Artist at Work’ – literally cast the subjects against windows, letting an interplay of light and shadow speak for the works. The black-and-white texture only works to aid the artistic impact of his experimental art photography.

Going against the grain

On his style, the Palakkad-born photographer, whose works have appeared in many international exhibitions, says: “Traditionally, you can either make a picture or take a picture. Taking a picture is usually associated with outdoors, where the natural world lets you zoom in on the objective real. What I have focussed on is making them. The dark tones in my frames are deliberate. I like to go against the grain,” he says. ‘The Artist at Work’ holds a “double impact” in that it shows a painter sitting by his easel, while the frame also captures its entire sombre reflection on the floor.

‘Power Cut’, a photograph by Hariharan Subrahmanian on display at ‘Whisper in Silence’

‘Power Cut’, a photograph by Hariharan Subrahmanian on display at ‘Whisper in Silence’   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

Apart from the Antarctica sojourn, Balan’s other works comprise some heart-warming vignettes in the wild. Like the symmetrical low-angle shot of a squirrel bounding from rock to rock or a herd of playful wild elephants strolling together. Perhaps, the stand-out frame is that of a flock of flamingoes lounging on a “dark” water body, the gentle ripples sureally diffusing their feathery white in the silhouette-like reflection.

Hariharan Subrahmanian

Hariharan Subrahmanian   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“That was a Kodak moment,” says Balan, a National Geographic-contributing photographer, about the shot captured at Lake Nakuru in Kenya. “At that time, there was a thunderstorm gathering. The sky suddenly turned beautifully overcast and this was reflected in the waters too. I realised it was a perfect moment for a black-and-white frame,” he recollects. His close-up of a portion of an Antarctican iceberg turns out to be a play of shades of blue.

Utilising ambient light

Suresh’s works seem to make the best out of ambient light in wondrous remote locales. A rare floral species endemic to the Western Ghats, a ‘happy family’ of barn owls, a Himalayan marmot, a Malabar Trogon and a picturesque shot of golden sunset in the Silent Valley National park in the Nilgiri hills and so on form part of his diverse range of snaps on display.

‘Life Flows on’, a photograph by Balan Madhavan on display at ‘Whisper in Silence’

‘Life Flows on’, a photograph by Balan Madhavan on display at ‘Whisper in Silence’   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

“I’ve been doing nature and wildlife photography for the past 45-odd years and the inspiration for my frames inevitably came from my passion for travelling,” says Suresh, a wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. “This selection provides a cross-section of my photography, but, more than that, my communion with nature,” he adds.

Suresh Elamon

Suresh Elamon   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A notable departure from his otherwise “to-the-point” style of photography would beLife Flows On’, which resembles an impressionistic painting. It’s a long shot of a man holding a fishing line and waiting for the catch amid swirling waters. Calling it a “lucky moment,” Suresh says he had instinctively gone for a “slow shutter” shot at the moment. Quick thinking indeed!

‘Whisper in Silence’ is on till April 5 at Suryakanti Art Gallery, Mangalam Lane, Sasthamangalam. Timings: 11 am to 6 pm


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 10:09:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/whisper-in-silence-at-suryakanti-art-gallery-in-thiruvananthapuram-displays-selected-works-by-balan-madhavan-hariharan-subrahmanian-and-suresh-elamon/article26673868.ece

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