Photowallah

About the exhibition
09 Mar 2017 - 08 Apr 2017

TARQ in collaboration with Tasveer bring together an exhibition titled Photowallah a solo show by Waswo X. Waswo in Mumbai on 9th March, 2017.

Photowallah includes photographs from two bodies of work by artist Waswo X.Waswo: A Studio in Rajasthan, Gauri Dancers and New Myths. In these photographs, Waswo playfully examines the genres of both the ethnographic photograph-as-document that is linked to the colonial era, as well as the fantasy-inspired make-believe that has emanated from traditional Indian portrait studios.

Ranging from shots of single figures to theatrically arranged tableaux, these photographs feature everyone from Gauri dancers to flower sellers, farmers, school children and the village ‘bad boys’. In the tradition of pictorialism, Waswo’s carefully crafted images — with their pastoral backdrops beautifully painted by Zenule Khan, Chiman Dangi, Anil Atrish and Dalpat Singh Jingar, and hand-tinted after printing by Rajesh Soni — resonate with a romantic sensibility, while yet remaining humorously self-aware and self-reflexive.

An inspired mix of homage and critique, these images straddle both the line between individualisation and homogenisation, and the vintage and the contemporary. The constructed tensions between conflicting, but simultaneous, impulses make these photographs astute and witty commentaries on the nature of stereotyping, portraiture, temporality and representation.

Through their paradoxes and parodying, these images compel viewers to rethink their initial perceptions, question the dialogue set up between photographer and model, and eventually challenge the viewer’s own preconceptions.

About the Artists

Waswo X. Waswo (b. 1953, U.S.A) has travelled, lived and worked in India for over sixteen years. He studied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, The Milwaukee Center for Photography, and Studio Marangoni, The Centre for Contemporary Photography in Florence, Italy. Alongside his books, India Poems: The Photographs, published by Gallerie Publishers in 2006, and Men of Rajasthan, published by Serindia Contemporary in 2011, he has had several solo exhibitions and been included in multiple group shows, world over. He also collaborates with a variety of local artists including the photo hand-colourist Rajesh Soni.

Rajesh Soni (b. 1981, India) is an artist who has become known primarily for his abilities to hand paint digital photographs. He is the son of artist Lalit Soni, and the grandson of Prabhu Lal Soni (Verma), who was once court photographer to the Maharana Bhopal Singh of Mewar. Prabhu Lal was not only a court photographer, but also a hand-colourist who painted the black and white photographs that he produced. His skills of hand-colouring photographs were passed down to Rajesh through the intermediary of his father Lalit.

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