11/12/2014

Reactions to an exhibition of Kulwant Roy's at NGMA

Photo Exhibition at NGMA (Kulwant Roy’s) Curated by Aditya Arya. Kulwant Roy was not formally trained in the medium of photography which gave him the autonomy to explore socio-political phenomenon of pre-independence and post-independence scene in India in an uninhibited & real fashion. He recorded these in a photo-journalistic approach. Among the many things he has recorded are Jawaharlal Nehru’s volunteering activities in the Congress seva dal. The many collaborative efforts of our political figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Nehru and Maulana Azad. One such had appeared in the newspaper of those times, a photograph of Nehru, Gandhi & Sardar Patel together, titled ‘Solving knotty problems’ in The Sunday Hindusthan Standard. Some cut-out images of J.Nehru depicts how photographers manually tried to create something different in days when technology was limited. A cut-out photo of J.Nehru is displayed using a painted background and framed, to create an optical perception. There are many beautifully documented photographs of Mahatma Gandhi’s meetings which include Gandhi leaving a prolonged discussion with Stafford Cripps, Gandhi at a prayer meeting, his third-class travels in the Railways. Not only was he capable of bringing out the solemnity of political leaders and their significance, but he also visually narrated their human-element and ordinariness in his photographs that have resonated with me. These include J.Nehru washing his hands after lunch at a congress working committee meeting, his Holi celebrations and the informal interactions with Jackie Kennedy where they share a laugh. Some of his photographs have also been conceptually presented. The photos of Gandhi that appear fragmented keeps you wondering about the photo-technique used & The photos of Sardar Vallabai Patel’s proof prints that are arranged in a unique sequence and framed, creating an abstract presentation.. He continued his work photographing the social and political metamorphosis of India, and there are some pictorial evidence of these in the context of international interaction by Indian leaders. This spills into his photographs on nation building(post-independence), where he has photographed actual construction workers, drilling operations, the infrastructure activities from the Bhakra Nangal dam, Light-latern factory workers..poetically depicting the common labourer’s odic life, while communicating the massive effort that goes into the work of building a new nation.


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