|Hindustan Times (Kolkata) Nov 22, 2011
Added on: Tuesday, November 22, 2011
If a photograph is good, and you are sitting near it, your eyes keep turning to it. So thinks Rameshwar Broota, whose exhibition of photographs, This End to the Others, is on at Aakriti Art Gallery. The photos have the evident feel of paintings. They are also huge, between 20 x 30 and 50 x 80 inches, and contextually explain two things: the vastness captured by the lens and the joy in details when edited on a desktop. A chat with the painter-photographer:
On www.broota.com, you have a self-portrait from the 1963-1970 period. You have said elsewhere that you have photographed yourself. Do all artists paint or photograph themselves?
People do self-portraits, but not as many as I did. With a self-portrait, the model is readily available, just stand in front of the mirror and start painting. If I’m alone in a room, I can’t sit idle or watch TV. If you have a big mirror in the room or bathroom, you can click yourself or your body parts in focus, or out of focus, using different lights. It is so absorbing.
Have you ever thought of this as narcissism?
No. If someone thinks so, let him or her! How does it matter (laughs)? Does anyone want to die, or injure himself, or look ugly? No. So why not accept that I am important? It’s just that I know what I want to do when I am alone.
Are the hand and other body parts yours in the ‘What Lies Beneath’ series of photos?
No. They are a woman’s. Although you see it as a very smooth surface, a close up of the skin, taken with a strong lens, shows something different. The details are exaggerated further on a computer— increasing the contrast, lightening the light areas, and darkening the dark portions. A contrast is shown between the texture of the skin — which is like earth, and water — which is liquid, deep. A plain hand would
have looked fine, but flat. So I added the drop of water and took the close-up.
How do you choose which scenes/frames to work on?
You do it (click or paint) naturally. On a trip, you see many beautiful scenes, fleeting moments. But if you see an artist’s work you think, ‘Arre, he took the photo and transformed it... though I have seen this scene many times, it is not ordinary.’
There is no effort. Yes, mystery, philosophy, thinking — these should be evident in
your photograph. It can’t be a flat surface that you see, shoot, enlarge and print.
The focus of your paintings was human figures, but your photos focus on landscapes. Has technology made the shift easier?
No. It’s not that. These are not pretty landscapes. I chose this subject for the feeling of space. Also, it has levels. If you see this (an untitled 50 x 75 inch photo of
a desert), because of space, you can see levels, depth of space and time, as if it existed sometime. That makes a photograph or painting beautiful. Anyone can take a
traditional landscape photo.
Unlike your contemporaries, you show your works rarely. Don’t you feel the competition?
No comparisons for me. My style is time consuming. And until I’m satisfied with it, I
don’t show a work to anyone.