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Gardens of the mind: Nature depicted in 60 photographs

Two photographers, an Indian and a Frenchman, inspired by Radha-Krishna and the beauty of flowers, bring new perspectives to the artistic depiction of the botanical world.

art and culture Updated: Apr 10, 2016 12:57 IST
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
Hindustan Times
Vaishanava Padabali

French fashion and lifestyle photographer Gilles Bensimon has moved away from his star-studded portfolio to shoot abstract patterns, giving a new perspective of depicting flowers in art.Seen here, Untitled Number One, 2011.(Gilles Bensimon/ Hamiltons Gallery)

In the rich Vaishanava literature of Bengal, the Padabalis (poetry collections written between the 15th and 17th centuries), have often focused on the divine love of Radha and Krishna, a romantic legend for all times. This is where artist, Swapan Nayak, draws his inspiration from. Nayak’s artworks are part of an exhibition that has recently opened in Delhi.

The exhibition of 60 photographs, Gardens of the Mind, offers a chance to view different artworks portraying nature. Collaborating with Nayak is French fashion and lifestyle photographer, Gilles Bensimon, whose Watercolour series showcases radiant colour photographs of flowers. In contrast, his Indian counterpart, Nayak, captures the yearning for the divine through black-and-white pictures of nature.

Tasveer, a Bengaluru-based contemporary photography organisation, has put together this exhibition as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations.

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Akkhepnurag #2, from the series Radha: A Love in Eternity, 2011 - 2014. (Swapan Nayak / Tasveer)

Talking about his inspiration, former photojournalist Nayak says, “The Padabalis have eight steps or stages, which I have followed in my photographs. My work is a subjective representation of its [the Padabalis’] essence. The poetry in Vaishanava Padabali describes the feelings of Radha in love. So I have followed and focused on Radha and titled my work, Radha — A Love in Eternity.”

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Bensimon has moved away from his star-studded portfolio which includes photographs of Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bündchen, Beyoncé, among others, to shoot abstract patterns, giving a new perspective of depicting flowers in art. Using freshly-cut blooms submerged in pools of water, he creates a range of colourful palettes.

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Untitled Number Eighteen, 2011. (Gilles Bensimon/Hamiltons Gallery)

“The two series of works seen in this show are in stark contrast to each other — with Bensimon’s photographs bursting with colour and Nayak’s minimalist black-and-white imagery at the other end of the spectrum,” says Nathaniel Gaskell, the curator of the exhibition.

“The idea behind it was two-fold. One, to look at the diversity offered by photography as a medium to express similar subjects. Two, the exhibition is also meant to touch upon the significance of the botanical world in the visual arts and the ways these two artists produce newer meanings.”

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Kalahantarita #3, from the series Radha: A Love in Eternity, 2011 - 2014. (Swapan Nayak/Tasveer)

Man #3, from the series Radha: A Love in Eternity, 2011 - 2014. (Swapan Nayak/Tasveer)

Vabsammelan #1, from the series Radha: A Love in Eternity, 2011 - 2014. (Swapan Nayak/Tasveer)

Swapan Nayak & Gilles Bensimon: Gardens of the Mind
Gallery Art Motif, A1/178, Safdarjung Enclave
Till April 15
10 am- 6 pm (except Sundays)