Some twenty-two easels hold a black-and-white photograph each in the covered space outside the art gallery of the city’s Government Museum. Each one seems to beckon the viewer in serene and mysterious monochrome and one wonders where these rocky landscapes have been clicked. It comes as a surprise indeed that the museum photographer Surinder Mohan Dhami has been having a silent dialogue with huge blocks of marble in the museum lawns placed some time ago by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi for an ongoing sculpture workshop and symposium called ‘Invocation Rock Seed’.
Eight well-known sculptors from different cities of the country are participating. The workshop was planned but the spontaneous photography show just happened and became a part of the two-week camp. Framed lightly in new wood, the pictures make for interesting viewing even though they are placed in the open - without the light of a gallery or its walls.
How did he create these photographs from blocks Bhainslana black marble which was given the name of the Rajashthani village where it is mined? Dhami replies, “During lunch hour, I would find my eyes turning to rough and rugged textures of the stone and got engrossed in the patterns and started seeing wavy clouds, islands, trees, rivers and ravines in them. It was then that I decided to capture these pictures on camera.” True enough, he offers these mindscapes, or call them landscapes, to the viewers that he spotted on the edges and corners of the marble blocks, in an unprompted display sponsored by the Akademi to be a part of its larger endeavour. Now that the eight sculptors have started hammering and chiselling the blocks of stones, the chance patterns that Dhami captured are vanishing from their surface. But Dhami with his special angles of the camera has preserved them in the photographs.
Interestingly, this is Dhami’s first solo show, although he has been a part of the art circle for a long time. However, these pictures are a teaser enough to want to see more of his work. Meanwhile, the invited sculptors have got the task of seeking their forms in the two-week workshop. The sculptors are Adwaita Gadnayak (Bhuvaneshwar), Bhupesh Kapadia (Udaipur), D Rajshekran Nair (Chennai), MP Singh (Varanasi), Rajendar Tiku (Jammu), Robin David (Bhopal), Tulu Patnaik (Delhi), Vipul Kumar (Jaipur). What shapes come out of the mute marble is to be seen for as Michelangelo said it is for the sculptor to take out the form that lies within every block of stone.