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Faces of Indian Art: Through the Lens of Nemai Ghosh

A new publication titled 'Faces of Indian Art: Through the Lens of Nemai Ghosh' takes the reader on a journey that is quite unique and fascinating. Perhaps for the first time ever, curious art lovers have been allowed an insider's view of how the maverick artists work in their own private abodes.

These are intimate images of artists ' lost in work in their studios. This is a private space of introspection or feverish activity, with each artist in solitude and engaged in dialogue with a piece of art.

The book begins with an introductory chapter by author-editor Ina Puri. As you flap through the book, you get to see the defining moments snapped through the skillful camera of renowned photographer Nemai Ghosh. A perspective on process is presented by Geeti Sen followed by a separate chapter on each artist in his or her studio.

Nemai Ghosh is renowned for his stills of legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray while at work. The photographer and the late filmmaker rarely spoke to each other, yet understood and admired each other's talent, and shared a perfect chemistry. In fact, the former had access to Ray's home and sets in a way few others did.

Then Nemai Ghosh decided to capture the private moments of recluse artists. The move though wasn't a planned one. Once he happened to meet artist Manjit Bawa whom he showed some of his transparencies of the painters of Kolkata. The painter suggested that he should expand the scope of his work, and not confine himself only to Kolkata and Santiniketan. At this point of time Ina Puri got involved in the project.

Recounting his experiences, Nemai Ghosh has been quoted as saying: 'Every artist I snapped had a unique style. Each one of them worked maintaining different postures and had different moods. In course of the assignment, I became aware how an artist and his or her work could create an extraordinary world. I hope some of this is conveyed to the reader through the book.'

Nemai Ghosh spent considerable time, photographing painters, such as Benodebehari Mukherjee, Jamini Roy, Manjit Bawa, Arpita Singh, sculptors Ramkinkar Baij to Dhruva Mistry at work, as they paint or sculpt. While talking to them, he realized that art was not estranged from reality but grew out of daily life and activities.

Chronologically, the volume traverses half a century, giving fascinating and rare vignettes of the names many an art aficionado is able to identify only through their signatures. The journey of the ace lensman maps the length and breadth of India and beyond to Paris, where legendary artist S. H. Raza lives.

The book 'Faces of Indian Art: Through the Lens of Nemai Ghosh' (edited by Ina Puri. Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi) captures haunting portraits of Somnath Hore in his last days, M.F. Husain starting and completing a painting, Tyeb Mehta, K.G. Subramanyan, Jogen Chowdhury, A. Ramachandran, Ram Kumar, Rameshwar Broota, Nilima Sheikh, Madhvi Parekh in various moods of introspection, absorbed in their own and unique creative processes.

Collaborating on the project, editor Ina Puri and the eminent art historians and art critics Geeti Sen, Keshav Malik, R. Siva Kumar and Samir Dasgupta throw light on the deeper connect between art, artist and his/her philosophy, merging the visual and textual content with sensitivity to what remains at all times the focal point - the artist's working process.

Lauding the lensman's efforts, artist Paritosh Sen has remarked that he is yet to see another photographer working with such dedication and passion. According to him, Nemai Ghosh's works ' both in black & white and colour - are of a high standard. This compilation of rare photographs and works is an invaluable archival material.

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