What defines longing? The yearning to return home? The wait for a tiring bus ride to end? The desperation to make love? Or the sheer thrill of being caught in a game of hide and seek?
For late photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta perhaps, longing lay in all of these. 90 pictures in all, from his final series “Longing” along with photographs clicked during his short-lived life of 55 years form a part of this exhibition. It was inaugurated on Friday at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA).
“Longing,” Dasgupta’s journal of memory and experience, was based on the everyday — family, friendships, places known, spaces occupied, journeys remembered — revolving around the core of a pivotal love affair. With an oblique, non-linear narrative, the work seeks to evoke through the selective memory of <g data-gr-id="112">personal</g> experience, a journey of the viewer’s own.
“His photographs act as a voice capable of luring our senses, instigating the viewer to put his mind, his eye and his heart on the same wavelength. What reinforces these thoughts is the sense of a strong composition and rhythm that is explicit in the images,” Rajeev Lochan, Director, NGMA said.
He was in the process of publishing <g data-gr-id="105">“Longing”,</g> when he unexpectedly passed away in 2012. Bits and pieces from every facet of his career as a photographer, both fine-art and fashion, are on display at the show. Born into a family of artists in Kolkata (1956), Dasgupta grew up in an atmosphere of creativity in the company of painters, musicians, dancers, writers and filmmakers.
He also spent several years living on the grounds of NGMA, where his father, Pradosh Dasgupta was the director.
A bunch of photographs from the time he spent in Ladakh in 2000, shows the cold desert being shot in the rare monochrome light, bringing out deeper and lesser told stories of the peasant and nomadic life of the land.
“There is a sense of lingering familiarity that transcends the atmosphere created by his images. The photographs facilitate a distinct connect between the viewer and the photographer,” Lochan said. He is said to have brought to photography a bold individualistic sensibility, which fetched him a place among the most distinguished photographers in the country. Pictures from “Women,” his controversial collection of portraits and nudes of urban Indian women also form a part of the retrospective.
The collection was a result of his realisation that Indian women as subjects of photographic representation were never seen as anything but exotic models of attractiveness.
In the <g data-gr-id="108">collection</g> he featured women “for their interestingness rather than their physical charms.” Dasgupta shot many Indian supermodels like Madhu Sapre, Mehr Jessia and Feroze Gujral.
One of his most recollected works <g data-gr-id="107">include</g> the controversial ad campaign for a shoe brand, featuring Madhu Sapre and Milind Soman wearing only the shoes and a snake. A post-graduate in History, Dasgupta had <g data-gr-id="106">began</g> his career as a copywriter at an advertising agency, before turning to photography full-time.
He had also photographed for many national and international magazines and top-notch fashion brands like Vogue, Louis Vuitton, Elle, Harper Bazaar and GQ among others, several of which can be seen at the exhibition.
Lochan said the NGMA is in the process of acquiring over 100 works by the late photographer. The Gallery has brought a publication “Prabuddha Dasgupta, A Journey”. Another publication on the photographer has also been brought out by his family. The show at NGMA is scheduled to go on till November 19.