CAPTIVATING KUTCH

Debarati Palit Singh
Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Ten members of The Photographic Society of Pune are exhibiting their work, which includes impressive abstracts and breathtaking landscapes of the Rann

Armenian-American painter Arshile Gorky, best known for his profound influence on the developments of abstract expressionism, had once said, ‘Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes’.
 
Ten members of The Photographic Society of Pune recently made a trip to Bhuj and its nearby areas, including the Great Rann of Kutch, and captured several magnificent abstract forms and beautiful landscapes through the lens. Now, they are showcasing their work in Pune. 

The members are exhibiting the photographs for three days, from June 13-15, at Balgandharva Kaladalan, JM Road. Around 120 photographs will be showcased at the exhibition titled Kutch: The Obvious and Beyond. The exhibition will be inaugurated by Dhiren Nandu, president, KVO, Jain Samaj. 

The visuals show the local heritage, culture, lifestyle and natural beauty. “Usually, Kutch is known for the Great Rann but there are many places and art forms which aren’t known to people like the Rogan paintings (an old form of painting done from natural vegetable colours), Lyari — the dry river belt, Tent City, among others. We used to start our day at 5.30 am and wrap up by 11.30 pm but the trip was amazing because we got to capture such beautiful sights,” says Aarti Dixit, a member of the society, who is also exhibiting her work. 

Along with Dixit, Dinesh Satuskar, Kishor Jagdale, Manisha Patil, Milind Joshi, Vithal Chargundi, Shital Raskar, Shahid Shaikh, Saify Akolawala and Manav Dedhia are also showcasing their art. Dixit says that before they went for the trip, Akolawala had already suggested them to display their work. 

“We had such a good time that each photographer was back with 600 to 1,000 pictures,” says Dixit, adding, “Personally, it was a fantastic experience. I visited Lyari for the first time and I can’t explain in words the kind of experience I had there. I found human sculpture in the mud!” 

The entire journey was a learning experience for her. “I learnt a lot. The other photographers shared their feedback and experiences. The members were co-operative and helpful,” Dixit further mentions.   

A heritage site
Patil can’t stop gushing about the Lyari river, which flows from Pakistan. “Even the Indian government does not recognise the place. It’s a desert area, so most of the time, it remains dry. But there are so many stones — multi-coloured and soft. When water flows, it gives various hues to the stones. It’s an amazing place and should be a world heritage site,” says Patil, who has been a member of The Photographic Society of Pune for many years. She adds that because locals are not aware of the richness of the place, there is a fear of the river belt getting destroyed. “If you see the photographs of the place, you will realise its richness,” she says, adding, “I have focused on its form, shape, pattern and colour. I hope the government protects the belt or else we will lose it.”     

Dixit says that she has also captured the lifestyle and culture of Bhuj through the lens.   

In a different light
Akolawala says that through the exhibition they are trying to show Kutch villages, doors and other types of architecture. “We have also gone into abstract forms. I have focused on the local drapes, construction of homes, and the unique Rogan Art form,” he says. 

Akolawala, who has been into photography for many years, calls this trip an altogether different experience. “No one has captured the abstract form of Kutch the way we have,” he says, adding that he has been visiting different places over the years. “Visiting new places enhances your photography skills. But sometimes old places too teach you a lot — you look at an old place with a fresh perspective. You also evolve from one trip to another,” he explains.    

Different strokes   
Like the others, Joshi too was floored by the landscapes of Lyari. “The kind of abstracts I found there, I couldn’t have imagined anywhere else. I love abstracts. When it comes to abstract photography, for instance, a tree, I see it as a human being trying to express something,” he says. 
Sharing an example, he says, “I clicked pictures of two trees and when I saw the photograph, I saw a mother and daughter having a conversation and the latter throwing her hand in the air as an expression. Also, while seeing a rock, I felt two animals sitting there. Having said that, each artist has his own vision and it’s their interpretation of the object,” says the 63-year-old engineer. 

A fulfilling experience
Rogan art has left a lasting impression on Satuskar but he is apprehensive that we might lose the art form soon. “There is only one family who is working on this art form,” he says, adding, “Besides Rogan, there were other elements to capture during the trip.”  

Satuskar is kicked about exhibiting his work because he is looking forward to the feedback from photography lovers. “It’s very encouraging and an amazing feeling when people appreciate your work. We had spent so many hours finding out gems from this trip. Any art form requires a lot of passion and is a form of meditation and when people appreciate that, it’s a happy feeling,” he says.  

Along with the exhibition, a three-day workshop on basic photography and an audio-visual slide show have been organised. The society has been organising the annual exhibition for the past 10 years. The society has members who are amateur photographers, including working and retired professionals. 

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