Recalling historic memories

The National Gallery of Modern Art alongwith Ministry of Culture is hosting ‘Visual Archives of Kulwant Roy’ - a monumental retrospective of the celebrated photographer’s rare pictures, which have been curated by Aditya Arya. Aditya has also played a pivotal role in the formation of the India Photo Archive Foundation.

This is an exhibition showcasing an earnest selection of diverse photographs taken by Kulwant Roy, one of India’s first freelance photojournalists who worked through the pre and post-Independence era, that witnessed many nationalist upsurges that shaped political, constitutional and economic future of the country.

This collection presents the work Kulwant Roy beginning from 1930s to the 1960s. His work followed mainstream national history and comprises political meetings, iconic portraits and glimpses into the lives of freedom fighters and leaders of India. Besides this, his works contain images of daily life and the efforts that went into nation building post-Independence. Many priceless moments come alive through his black and white rolls.

“After three decades as an advertising photographer, I am blending my interest in history and photography together. My focus has shifted to the art of photo archiving and visual histories which has been largely inspired by the priceless collection bequeathed by Kulwant Roy,” shares Aditya.

“These images represent some of the most important moments in the history of this nation that I wanted to share with the present generation so they know the people behind the freedom movement,” adds Aditya.

Obviously, the exhibition represents only a fraction of a much larger collection of photo material, some part of which is lost or destroyed over time. Many rare negatives, though, have been recovered through a long and painstaking process and some of these pictures have been displayed and exhibited here for the first time.

The exhibition is also an attempt to highlight and showcase the brilliance and originality of Kulwant Roy’s visuals, backed by textual references as well as other relevant accompanying information. On display are more than 200 digital reproductions and over a 100 original silver bromide prints. Some large reproductions of rare negatives from 1938 of Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to NWFP where he met Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan are also included.

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