Under the Mango Tree presents ‘Indian Storytellers’, a group exhibition of photography and the photo-based works of Ranbir Kaleka, Dinesh Khanna, Soham Gupta, Amit Pasricha, Manoj Jain, and Cop Shiva. The works in the exhibition almost imperceptibly shift the inevitable associations to Indian sojourns and reinterpret people, their life, offering you a view from the gaze of experienced insiders. Each one of the artists in his own way challenges the stereotypical image of India in the West, insisting on a collaborative dialog, while concentrating on sharing the power of image making.
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From focusing on the colour in rural and urban spaces to the surrealist depiction of a post-colonial Eden, the artists express a kaleidoscope of an Indian story. This is a story, which continues to be characterised by traditional values, the fragility of transformation, and an imagination evolving through technological development and a wider world of communication.
T H E A R T I S T S
RANBIR KALEKA is a contemporary Indian multimedia artist based in New Delhi whose work centres around themes of identity, sexuality, nature, and tradition. Trained as a painter, he uses the documentary strength of the photographs and art historical bequest of paintings while exploring the modern digital possibilities for image generation. In this exhibition Kaleka’s digital paintings may seem universal, but on closer inspection we recognize details that clearly refer to their Indian origin. Here you can see his work which opens up utopian imagery with a dystopian impression, in which we can go on a journey of discovery.
DINESH KHANNA tells of the splendour of colours and the cultural diversity of the Indian continent. Included in this exhibition are Khanna’s work that present architectural facades and inner spaces that are currently still existing. The photographer cultivates a fluid position between fields of colour, spaces and human, and he continuously reminds us of the colors that we own in our daily normal lives. Khanna is the co-founder of the Nazar Foundation in Delhi, a non-profit foundation, to promote the photographic arts.
SOHAM GUPTA´S work blurs the line between fact and fiction. Imagining the world’s end, the photographer’s latest project EDEN guides us through a spiritual narrative exploring India’s colonial past, landscape and elusive, ghostly characters. The origins of this project lie in his highly acclaimed 2008 photobook ‘Angst’, shot in Calcutta at night. Although Gupta’s EDEN continues on with the dark vision of badly ruled world now nearing apocalypse, Gupta’s project also suggests a more positive reading; If both people and the land have been ransacked, it’s fitting that nature now rises up. Maybe, like new trees and creepers, new worlds are taking root – or rather, new readings of the world we all inhabit. *
AMIT PASRICHA is a third generation photographer, who spent his childhood helping his grandfather to work on glass plates and negatives and to color black and white photographs by hand. Today a luminary in the field of panoramic photography, Pasricha examines the lifestyles and and the aesthetics of personal spaces across all possible social structures in the country. Some of the images from this series can be seen in the exhibition alongside large landscape panoramas that together paint the picture of the Indian view of life. With his deep interest in Indian heritage, he has set a goal of raising awareness about the decay of lesser-known monuments in India and to fight for preservation of these monuments in India through his social-media campaign ” India Lost and Found” initiated in 2018.
MANOJ KUMAR JAIN, who studied photography at the Delhi College of Arts, takes a strongly formalistic approach. Jain’s choice of analogue black-and-white photography succeeds in depicting the authenticity of the Adivasi culture and people, both formally and in terms of content. In this exhibition Jain’s postcolonial work speak of waiting, surveying, of temporarily becoming part of the environment, of earning trust. They are deeply human and proof of respect.
COP SHIVA documents the complexity of rural and urban India. Influenced by magical realism, Shiva focuses on people and portraiture as a genre, fascinated with the idea of masquerade and the roles people play in public and private. Shiva’s portfolio includes intimate portraits of rural migrants, street performers and others living on the fringes of Indian society. Beginning his professional life as a police officer in 2001, his present artist name Cop Shiva refers to his first profession. Since 2010 he took up photography as his main job.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)