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Poetic sensibilities

Poetic sensibilities
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Combining the dexterity of a lensman and sensibility of a poet, a leading Indian writer-photographer is set to crackle the art scene in the national capital by holding a solo photography show Ephemera that takes the audience into the deep recesses of the mountains and life of the people through a tapestry of haunting images.

Delhi-based artist-author Kishore Thukral’s week-long exhibition, beginning January 14 at India Habitat Centre, features 73 sparkling photos, focusing on the transient nature of life shot through diverse geographies – from Ladakh to Nepal, from Mauritius to Japan, from Spiti to Cambodia.

So there are pictures of brooding mountains, expansive deserts and gurgling rivers on the one hand and of urban chaos expressed through images of fishing nets (Cambodia) and the rail transit line (Tokyo), on the other.

The uniqueness of the exhibition lies in Thukral’s pioneering attempt to probe the timeless bond of man-mountain-water and beyond through two different mediums -- camera and poetry. For Ephemera is the title not only of the photo exhibition but also first book of his that combines pictures with verse.   

“This relationship (man, mountain and water) commenced millennia ago. It will endure till our planet survives. Their Survival will be our Survival,” says the artist, who has trekked, photographed and researched extensively in the western Himalayas, especially in the Spiti Valley.

The pictures – all in colour -- focus on the entrancing nature on the one hand and the toil and turmoil of human beings in an urban milieu – with an underlying message that they are all ‘ephemera’. “In this Cosmos of Eternity, what am I but mere Ephemera!” observes the poet-artist.

Celebrated art historian, curator and cultural theorist Alka Pande has curated the exhibition, which will be opened by well-known music composer Shantanu Moitra.

On the occasion, renowned actress-writer-painter-photographer Deepti Naval will release the book, Ephemera, which sums up Thukral’s belief, imbibed through the Buddhist philosophy, that impermanence is the only permanent thing in life. We may yearn for immortality, but ‘ephemera’ is our unalterable destiny.  

In her foreword to the book, Deepti Naval writes: “His (Kishore) journey has taken him to remote niches in the mountains, and to a whole new universe en route…the camera has become an inseparable part of Kishore. I have seen him use it instinctually, like an artist handling his brush.
Understandably, his photography is intuitive, not laboured…. Going through his book it becomes difficult to say whether it is his image or his words that are more evocative.”

The 198-page book has 171 photos in total, capturing the various moods of the mountains and life of the people. “My poetry reflects the frustration and longing of inhabitants of the ersatz world of our cities,” he says.  

Thukral has to his credit a number of photography exhibitions and illustrated lectures on Spiti, Dangkhar and Vajrayana Buddhist art.

His photographs have appeared in books, magazines and calendars, including the 2011 calendar on Buddha brought out by India Post, Government of India. He has also the credit of compiling and editing Sharanam Gachhami: an Album of Awakening (Full Circle) in 2011, a coffee-table book of photographic interpretation on Buddhist principles, shot by 20 photographers from different parts of the world, including Richard Gere, Steve McCurry, Raghu Rai and Deepti Naval. His other works include The Chronicler’s Daughter (2002), a novel. He is currently working on a handbook on Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhist iconography. He has also translated and written several songs, including the theme song for the award winning film I am Kalam.

When: January 14 to 20  Where: India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road
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