New Delhi-based PHOTOINK gallery put up two solo exhibitions of black and white photography by Prabuddha Dasgupta and Dileep Prakash on 3 February 2018. Though the artists greatly vary in style and practice, it is hard to ignore convergences and conversations that ensue. Their works explore light, life and nature. Additionally, they are both self-taught photographers who studied history and began their photography careers in the 1980’s.
Exhibit 1: Prabuddha Dasgupta’s 'Anatomies'
Known for the sensual flair of his photography, Dasgupta turns his gaze towards Mother Nature. In 26 gelatin silver prints, conceived posthumously by PHOTOINK and Prabuddha's Estate, 'Anatomies' provokes conversation regarding the intimate nature of the plant kingdom. He renders each of the frames with the same erotic poise and detail from his images of fashion and women. The monochrome musings explore plants as erotic living beings and not just mere flora. The note with the exhibition reads, “Though the intention was not to provoke, it’s hard to ignore how sexually charged some of the photographs are”. One finds sensuality and poetry in the blossoming of a bud, dewdrops on leaves, and even in the wilting of petals, are subtle provocations for the mind.
Exhibit 2: Dileep Prakash’s 'Sleeping in the Forest'
“The rest houses I am interested in photographing are situated in dense jungles. When spending the night out making photographs by the light of the moon, I would always look at the forest. It seemed like a dark, impregnable maze. A stifled air of foreboding would hang over the beauty of the scene. I began to make photographs of the forest from the clearing of the bungalow. It took me some time to muster up the courage to venture into the forest, to make photographs from within. It is a humbling experience to be in a remote Himalayan forest at night. It is this feeling that drew me deeper and deeper," says Prakash.
India’s colonial past has been a time-honoured interest for Dileep Prakash since the 1980’s, which he has dutifully shown in his series such as 'The last steam trains' (1999-2003), 'Anglo Indians' (2004-2006) and photographs of boarding schools built before India’s independence.
It was in 2007 when he quit his job as a photo editor to completely submerge himself to his own projects. Prakash’s exhibition, 'Sleeping in the Forest' was originally undertaken because of his fascination for “British-built rest houses [called dak bungalows] made in the forests of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand”.
He calls the nighttime ‘monochromatic’, relying on the fact that the human eye cannot sense color during the nighttime. He wanted to capture a moment when the moon was the only source of light.
This project took ten long years to complete and after the first initial years of focusing on these houses, the surrounding flora became an integral part of his pictures. Over a period of time, Prakash developed a relationship with the forest, his camera, and the moonlight. And the outcome? Sleeping in the Forest.
The exhibition is currently on view at the PHOTOINK Gallery in New Delhi, A-4 Green Avenue Street, Off Green Avenue, Church / Mall Road, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi 110070 India until 17 March 2018