"I picked up the camera not to become a photographer, but to find inner peace," reads a quote on the front wall of Sanjay Bhattacharya's solo photography exhibition 'Na Mono Lagena.' The show brings out an array of 16 large photographs and a series of composite studies in small format celebrating his travels across India.
Inaugurated by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan on Thursday evening, at the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, this show is unlike a regular photography exhibition, where one gets to see photographs with the dimensions of 16x20 or 17x22. But 'Na Mono Lagena', you see enormous photographs blown up on canvases giving out that larger than life feel to every pair of awestruck eyes. Like his paintings, Bhattacharya's photographs reflect his passion for form and texture.
Standing by his unusual 'self-portrait' Bhattacharya explains the strange yet interesting concept behind the shot. When you look at the photo, for an instance, it looks like a gunshot on an old mirror. Circling around the apparent shot mark, which is actually an extended rust formation, one can find the outline of a camera by the photographer's head. "A case of both side shooting," explained Sanjay Bhattacharya saying that when he found the mirror with the rust formation, he hovered around the mark to capture the right composition of his reflection - his self-portrait. He said that even though he had a camera since 1987, he took a serious interest in photography from 2006. "Once, I had called my photographer friend Akash to have a look at some of my photographs just before my first exhibition in 2009. The first thing he said seeing the frames in my studio was, 'When did you paint these watercolours?' That's when I felt like I had achieved something with photography. I do not have to impress anybody with my photos. I click because I love to, photography is another medium of art," said the jovial artist, known majorly for his works on watercolours and oil.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan said, "His (Sanjay's) photographs are from the eyes of an artist. All of them are beautiful, but the one which definitely arrests my attention is the Shantiniketan skyline. It is very inspiring to see such beautiful works."
Another eye-catching photograph which almost appears to pop out of the wall is that of Shiv-Parvati. The outstanding afternoon-sunlight gives a lively relief to the statues making them look unusually real. "I clicked this photograph at Tirupati, these are one of the neglected pieces one can find on the walls. What made me click was the light, which gives the picture a 3D appearance."
"I love the combination of black and brown textures-whether it is on a wall or in the coal tar that drips along the different containers that lie on the roadside. I think that combination is something that belongs to the Old Masters-like Dali and Rembrandt. The textural combination gives me a feeling of being excited – it springs within me lots of emotions. I have always had a preference for Gothic darkness – it's a way of thinking and feeling – it's about finding beauty in the darkness of destruction and decadence. One thing about these textures is that it has inbuilt contradictions, it is fascinating and inaccessible, distant because of demonstrated features, and it possesses such strength of character that it is far from beautiful," states the artist.
The inauguration was also graced by Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development Maneka Gandhi, besides several other artists and art enthusiasts from across the Capital. 'Na Mono Lagena' is open for viewing until Sunday.