A window to a mesmerising world

Decisive moments

A window to a mesmerising world

He has been called the wizard of India. Legendary tales have spun around him. Famed for his wide network, he is hailed for adopting innovative methods which has helped journalists and photographers carry out difficult assignments in remote parts of the subcontinent and in trying circumstances.

An enigmatic personality, Deepak Puri held the post of General Manager and Photo Editor of Time-Life News Service’s South Asia bureau for over three decades. Well-known writer and novelist Pico Iyer describes him as “the only person on the planet who can make mountains move — and, in the process, bring them to Mohammed.”

‘The Deepak Puri Collection: Legacy of Photojournalism’, currently on at the Tasveer Gallery, presents an assortment of photographs snapped by some of the well-known practitioners of the documentary aesthetic. The pictures were gifted by the photographers to Puri as a sign of friendship and appreciation.

Puri, in turn, recently donated his collection to Bengaluru-based MAP (the Museum of Art and Photography), which in collaboration with Tasveer, has mounted the exhibition as part of the latter’s 10th anniversary celebrations.

The exhibit includes works by renowned photographers like American editorial photographer Steve McCurry; British photographer Diane Barker; American war photographer James Nachtwey; Japanese-born photographer Kenro Isu; and others. Several works by Indian lensmen including Raghu Rai, TS Satyan, and Prashant Panjiar are also present in the show.

The most impressive and expansive work on display is of Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. Known as an exemplar of the tradition of ‘concerned photography’, Salgado held a camera for the first time as a 26-year-old in 1970. 

Since then, his images of nature, animals, and indigenous people have mesmerised the world and provoked widespread debate on key issues of development, environment and human condition. A widely travelled photographer, Salgado is known to have sneaked through extreme heat and cold and sometimes, dangerous conditions to get his pictures. He is also famous for having travelled by foot, light aircraft, seagoing vessels, canoes, and even balloons, in order to accomplish his objectives. The dozen odd pictures on display provide a small window to the work of this master of black and white photography. 

There are some impressive prints capturing decisive moments and moving subjects standing side by side with run-of-the-mill stuff like the all-too-familiar Dal Lake (Kashmir), Taj Mahal (Agra) and Varanasi. The good news is that long after one has exited the gallery, the silent stares of dust-covered Bihari coal workers (Salgado), Afghan girl/woman (McCurry) and such others would continue to haunt the visitor.  The exhibition concludes on October 2 at Sua House, Kasturba Cross Road. It is on from Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5.30 pm.

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