A painting, a photograph or something in between ?

"The marriage of art and photography has expanded areas in my creative subconscious that I knew never existed. These are portraits done together with India's finest contemporary artists, including Baiju Parthan, Jitish Kallat, Sunil Padwal, Manas Kamal Biswas, Nikhil Chaganlal and these imply media as diverse as paint, photo-shop, sunboard and plywood." - says India's leading photographer, Atul Kasbekar.

"When Atul Kasbekar invited me to collaborate a project of exploring a self-portrait through his lens, I decided to work through some of my recent concerns with no digital alternation of image and only a minimal employment of extrinsic tools such as Photoshop etc." - Jitish Kallat.

This intriguing collaboration between art and photography translated into a self-portrait of the artist shot by Kasbekar that made a telling statement over the "recurring disasters of our national drama." The question that the viewers were compelled to ask then, was it a painting, was it a photograph or something in between?

It is often said that 'a picture can speak a thousand words', whether its flowers, landscapes, people, sunsets or sporting events, there is something curiously magical about capturing a moment, a mood, a feeling on film! The exhibits at Exhibit 'A', 2002, left you bewildered yet in awe of the works displayed by top-notch photographers and other talented participants from around the country, at the Jehangir Art gallery for the photography exhibition- Exhibit 'A' 2002, from December 8 to 13. The Photographers' Guild of India (PGI) hosted for the second time consecutively - a photography exhibition The Exhibit - A 2002. It attracted India's leading photographers including Ashok Salian, Atul Kasbekar, Daboo Ratnani, among others.

It was a collection that comprised images from various fields, locations and focusing on people from different walks of life. The photographers had shot subjects as diverse as politics, glamour, culture and art. Indeed, the viewfinder of the photojournalists was wider and zooming. The show was very inclusive. This exhibition was one with a purpose since the intent was to elevate photography to a level of art form that is reflective of one's personal creativity! Also it created a platform that would encourage and bring to fore, upcoming creative talent, an activity that is undoubtedly. Dabboo Ratnani's work greeted you as you watch bemused the comical expressions on the faces of Tinu Anand (a film personality), Ashok Salian and Adnan Sami ( pop singer) all humor personified! Among the esoteric works of Ashok Salian, Atul Kasbekar to the erotic works of Madhur Shroff and Vikram Bawa Exhibit 'A' 2002 had them all.

One such interesting photographer Girish Mistry's work, was simple yet very intriguing. 'Maa' as his work was titled comprised of three frames in one-photograph deals with spirituality. His photograph drew a comparison with the feared goddess Kali and a mother. Girish adds that "if Kali is considered a mother why should she be feared? If you can love and respect your mother so should you love and respect Kali."

Going to another extreme Vikram Bawa says that his work is rather controversial and is waiting in anticipation for a response. Bawa says " Exhibit 'A' is a great idea to have every year (this being the second) as it allows us to showcase our work which cannot be printed otherwise, and also work which is created on a more personal note."

For Jaideep Oberoi who helped in getting the exhibition together, each photographer has space to express what he wants to do. Your own point of view can be expressed. And with each photographer contributing with his or her diverse talents, this exhibition is surely interesting! Nrupen Madhavani's work dealt with the ritual of death. The photo showed a man squatting from a top angle and a skull of an animal. Which he aptly puts in a sentence- "Life is about Death."

With such a kaleidoscope of exhibits on display and such a melange of talent the exhibition definitely served its purpose.

Spotlight on the participants
Atul Kasbekar: An alumnus of the Brooks Institute of Photography (Santa Barbara), Atul Kasbekar topped the class of '88, winning an Achievement Award in Advertising & Photography. He trained in LA for over a year, with such legendary photographers as Dennis Gray, Ron Slenzak, James B Wood, Jay Silverman, Jay P Morgan, Bill Werts and David Lebon. In 1990, he returned to India, converted his bedroom into a studio and put out a shingle. His very first assignment, a brochure for the fashion house Sheetal, made news. With a national campaign for Park Avenue (one of India's leading apparel brands), Atul came into his own. Assignments followed thick and fast. Food, fashion, automobiles, airplanes, hotels, editorials'even the full monty.

Vikram Bawa: Vikram Bawa graduated as a Math student, and then he went on to study Law and at the same time put up a chemical company in partnership. After eight years running his company - he finally gave it all up to follow his lost childhood passion - Photography. Since then he has shot for some of the best Brands/Agencies in India and for practically every magazine in India - like Elle, Cosmopolitan, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Oomph etc. And all this for a person whose first two rolls of film came out blank. He has been judged as the 2nd best photographer at the PIEA (PMA - USA) international awards - It was the first time for an Indian photographer. He has just won the best campaign award for The Leela Palace Goa at Como - Italy. He is the first Indian photographer to introduce 3D photography and Disappearing Photography in India & to shoot the first 3D cover and Fashion feature for a magazine.

Swapan Mukherjee, Sumeet Chopra, Ashok Salian, Ronnie Sequeira, Bipin Mistry, Sanjay Marathe, Jaideep Oberoi and Preeti Bedi were the other participants in this exhibition.

The Photographers' Guild of India (PGI)
PGI, the brain behind the exhibition at the Jehangir, is one of the most prestigious photographers' organizations in India formed for their protection, support and education. This association now boasts of over 200 members from all over India, bringing to them luminaries of the photography galaxy through discussion, forums, seminars and conference, which have proven to be extremely powerful medium for personal evolvement.

PGI is a leader in the dissemination of information and technical advice that impacts on the entire photographers fraternity -whether it be in the area of agency or current business practices and copyright issues growing out of the proliferation of computer technology. The guild empowers all photographers with a strong collective voice, promoting constructive dialogue between the advertising, publishing and photography industry groups. It also provides a forum for exchange of information and experience among members.

The guild educates through business seminars, workshops and social events which features prominent experts from all areas of the advertising and photography industry, while also supplying the members with business forms and contracts needed by professional photographers. Excellence in photography is recognized through exhibition and award programs organized by PGI.

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