Triveni Kala Sangam, Triveni Kala Sangam Delhi, Triveni Kala Sangam art exhibitions, art exhibitions Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi art exhibitions, Indian Express
Unidentified lady of the zenana (Courtesy: Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, Metropolis Palace, Jaipur/ACP)

Within the India of the 1850s and ’60s, when images was nonetheless to achieve many in India, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II of Jaipur was an exception. Recognized for his forward-looking strategy — together with gifting the town its first artwork and craft faculty — Singh was distinct from his contemporaries in pursuing images. Recognised as ‘India’s first photographer king’, he captured the nation and its individuals. “We tried to cover different aspects of the works of this remarkable, little-known photographer,” says Giles Tillotson, guide director on the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum in Jaipur. Together with Mrinalini Venkateswaran, museum guide at Metropolis Palace in Jaipur, and Rahaab Allana, curator at Alkazi Basis for the Arts, he has co-curated the exhibition “A Reflective Oeuvre”. On at Delhi’s Artwork Heritage gallery, the showcase explores Singh’s engagement with images with 120 works.

Saved close to the doorway are Singh’s works as a copyist, who would {photograph} different images, maybe to check his abilities and improvise his strategies. We see, amongst others, copy photographs of a print of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna and an oil portray of Lord Dufferin, Viceroy of India. There are additionally photographs of cupboard playing cards of Marchioness of Ripon (a British patron of arts) and a cupboard card depicting Singh’s successor, Kayam Singh. “It shows that he is experimenting with the very medium of photography… We give a sense of Ram Singh as an accomplished photographer but also someone who is experimenting with different kinds of approaches,” says Tillotson. He notes how one of many targets of the exhibition is to make the images of Singh higher identified to the general public. Recognized amongst specialists within the historical past of Indian images, Tillotson regards him as a serious 19th-century Indian artist.

Triveni Kala Sangam, Triveni Kala Sangam Delhi, Triveni Kala Sangam art exhibitions, art exhibitions Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi art exhibitions, Indian Express
Self-portrait with folded arms (Courtesy: Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, Metropolis Palace, Jaipur/ACP)

Whereas there isn’t a certainty if there was any singular impetus to Singh’s ardour for images, he did reportedly study the artwork from British photographer T Murray when he was in Jaipur in 1860. “Singh did work with Murray but he was one among several other photographers whom he met and conversed with. For instance, he also met French photographer Louis Rousselet. When he became a member of the Bengal Photographic Society, he was also introduced to Eugene Impey, who was the British resident in Jodhpur and also a photographer. He recommended Singh to become a member of the Society… In the 1860s and ’70s, when Singh is working, almost everyone is experimenting, the process is developing very rapidly and the technology is changing,” says Tillotson. Whereas the opposite royal courts had been additionally patrons of images, Singh, too, was a collector who owned massive albums of Bourne & Shepherd, amongst others.

Juxtaposed alongside his prints are images of among the different photographers of the time and Jaipur-based photographer Nandan Ghiya, who additionally works with classic images. “Nandan uses history as an archive of information and there seems to be dialogue between him and Singh, a 21st-century artist and 19th-century artist. We thought it will be interesting to bring them together. Singh was an artist who was engaging with people around him and using photography as a medium, and Ghiya does the same,” says Tillotson.

Curated from a group of over 2,000 images, one of the vital distinctive and intriguing sections of the exhibition contains images of the ladies from his zenana (part of the home the place the ladies lived). These had been among the first pictures taken of girls in the course of the British Raj, when the purdah observe was prevalent. “Though later that becomes a more accepted trait, he is very much a pioneer,” says Tillotson. Assured and well-dressed, the ladies are most likely concubines. “They are not shy and the way they are posing suggests a very relaxed relationship between the photographer and the women,” notes Tillotson.

There may be additionally the Maharaja himself — valiant on a horse, dressed plainly, and even of him meditating. For him, {photograph} was each a creative pursuit in addition to a documentation of the instances, of the landscapes and the buildings that occupy the scene. “He is also interested in documenting what he is doing. Several photographs are of the buildings he had constructed and commissioned, and the gardens he had laid out, including the Ram Niwas Bagh and the General Hospital that he had commissioned. So, he is recording his own achievements and his own reign as well,” notes Tillotson.

The exhibition at Artwork Heritage Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi, is on until September 18

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