One of the many repercussions of the truly tragic and violent incidents at Paris, was that the 19th edition of the famed international photographic art fair, Paris Photo 2015, had to shut down abruptly this year.
Tasveer, one of the few South Asian galleries participating in the fair for the third consecutive time, was showing a special solo exhibition of original vintage prints by Jyoti Bhatt.
Jyoti Bhatt has been actively engaged with photography since the mid-1960s, and his photographs constitute an important chapter in the history of photography in India. Tasveer’s exhibition at Paris Photo 2015 provided an opportunity to see an important collection of over 30 of his original vintage photographs, predominantly from 1966 to 1994. This included his photographs made over three decades in rural Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar, as well as his extremely rare experimental studio work — seen here.
Bhatt’s deepened understanding of the aesthetic configurations of Indian tribal and folk art, as a result of over three decades of travel and experience photographing indigenous art and craft forms of rural regions, forms a primary influence on his work. His photo-collages may therefore be seen evoking these traditions, through both form and content. Free from literal interpretation, they produce polysemic responses through the obliteration of all references to reality, indexicality and context in a photograph. Stretching the limits of the medium through their exploration of form, they are ample evidence of Bhatt’s formative position in the history and evolution of Indian photography.
Reflective of Bhatt’s sensibility as a graphic artist, they highlight the seminal nature of Bhatt’s oeuvre that is threaded by his primary interest in the visual image, and defined by his personal visual language that showcases the photograph’s ability to contain “metaphorical meanings and identifiable forms [that] evoke emotional responses.”