William Gedney and Raghubir Singh

A Project by Shanay Jhaveri on Invitation by Matti Braun
September 20 – November 16, 2013

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

William Gedney and Raghubir Singh

A Project by Shanay Jhaveri on Invitation by Matti Braun
September 20 – November 16, 2013
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Esther Schipper is pleased to announce a special exhibition of photographs by William Gedney and Raghubir Singh conceptualised by Shanay Jhaveri. On the occasion of the exhibition the gallery hosts the presentation of the book Western Artists and India: Creative Inspirations in Art and Design by Shanay Jhaveri. The exhibition was prepared in collaboration with Matti Braun, the artist whose photographic research is featured in the book.

 

Following the themes of the book Western Artists and India, devoted to crosscultural influences between India and the West, the exhibition highlights the creative exchange between an Indian and an American photographer. Black and white vintage gelatine prints by William Gedney (1932–1989) and printed color photographs by Raghubir Singh (1942–1999) shot in India starting from 1968 disclose shared interests, mutual influences and affiliations between the photographers coming from different cultures. The exhibition space is subtly changed by an intervention of Matti Braun, who contributed to Western Artists and India with a portfolio of photographs collected

during his travel to Ahmedabad and the research on Indian physicist Vikram Sarabhai. The bright but discrete color transitions crossing the ceilings of the gallery space introduce the motive of a new and vivid experience.

 

The exhibition acknowledges the friendship between William Gedney and Raghubir Singh. William Gedney travelled to India in November 1969 on a Fulbright Fellowship. First disturbed by the multitude of visual impressions, he soon discovered the beauty of the busy street-scapes and customs of people, which he captured in his black and white photographs. On his way to Calcutta, Gedney stopped in Benares, the sacred city on the banks of the Ganges, where he stayed for the next two years. It was during the trip to Calcutta that Gedney met Raghubir Singh. A selection of ten black and white photographs that Gedney made in Benares, Calcutta and in other locations in India are displayed in a vitrine, close to the framed photos by Raghubir Singh.

 

Raghubir Singh started taking pictures in the 1960’s contributing to magazines like National Geographic, Life and The New York Times, before publishing his own photography books. Unique, within the Indian context, Singh shot in color, distinguishing himself from his peers. Kodachrome, which was neither available nor processed in India, remained his favoured photographic material. In building his “chromatic eye” the photographer candidly acknowledged influences of Henri Cartier-Bresson and William Gedney, both of whom he met upon their visits to India. Raghubir Singh’s 1988 book Calcutta: The Home and the Street is dedicated to Gedney. The exhibition features six color photographs by Raghubir Singh taken in Benares, Calcutta and elsewhere in India between 1968 and 1991.

 

The photographs presented at Esther Schipper are a small selection from both Gedney’s and Singh’s vast bodies of work: Gedney exposed over 350 rolls of 35 mm film in India, while Singh produced 13 books on the subcontinent during his lifetime. Encountering these loose groupings of photographs together, Gedney and Singh mutual influence and admiration becomes palpable, at the same time the differences that mark their practices must also be recognized and respected. Somewhere amidst the flow and rhyming patterns of people and animals, fleeting hand gestures and penetrating stares, two worlds, one in black and white, and the other in color, coexist.

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