February 5, 2023

ART talk

Himadri Datta’s Photographs: Ahmedpur-Katwa Narrow Gauge

Himadri aims to present ‘a complex surface through simple elements’. Each photograph tells a story, and the stories ensconced in Himadri’s photographs are testament to his engagement with the quotidian. Photographs featuring Ahmedpur-Katwa narrow gauge railway, some of which have been shown in Bikshan Film Society’s 6th Photo Exhibition, are inspired by his childhood spent in the Ahmedpur rail colony. It is this prolonged familiarity with the space that lends authenticity and life to the otherwise brief existence of people caught between extended tracks and the transience of travel.

K. G. Subramanyan as Muralist #2

There had to be a personal angle, it also had to be for him, as it was for Nandalal and his other mentors at Santiniketan. Public art, meant not only art in a public space or on public buildings, but art that came alive through an environmental connect and was made meaningful by the response of variously endowed viewers.

K. G. Subramanyan as Muralist #3

The imagery is minimal and its overall impact is austere, some would think too spartan. Compared to the black and white mural its sensuousness is subtler and deliberately underplayed as in many of Nandalal’s works. This is Subramanyan’s homage to Nandalal as well as a demonstration of his personal insight into the expressive subtleties of design gained through long years of engagement.

K. G. Subramanyan as Muralist #1

But unlike his contemporaries, compelled to work as both artist and designer at the outset of his career he learned to explore self-expression within the larger frame of communication and subsume the quest for originality within the operative frame of a visual language that is potentially shareable even if not actually shared.