Aditya Arya / India
Tattva which can also mean "the essence" or "an element" takes the photographer to witness and explore a land that is not only historically relevant, but also a fragile ecosystem which has been responsible for the biodiversity of the region of the Aravali mountains in the north of India.
These delicate images created with the various vintage analog photographic processes (Cyanotype, Gum Bichromate, Salt Print and Anthotype) are a visually stimulating, thought provoking and surreal impressions of the artist's own metaphoric interpretation of a space which consists of multiple memories and nostalgia.
Aditya Arya has been an exponent of the medium for over 4 decades as an eminent photographer, archivist and a historian. He is presently the driving force behind India's most important photography center " Museo Camera" in the National Capital region.
Tattva is a manifestation of my exploration and experimentation with dimensions of land and its many metaphors. These works evoke a layered dialogue with varied conceptual frameworks from defining moments in the development and evolution of photography. It is a tribute to this special mountain range and the collection presented here is a result of my exploratory visits over the last few years. Creativity often emerges from accidents and these vintage printmaking processes have a curious unpredictability to them. Besides being hard to tame, they are based on several variables anda certain erratic beauty emerges from these imperfections.
"It's about the variables and endless possibilities which add to the charm and which makes the analog processes fascinating"
The Aravallis are the oldest fold mountains in India, resulting from tectonic forces that were in play over three billion years ago. With the gradual progression of time, a series of complex elements eventually formed this mighty range as we know it today.
I am a child of the Aravallis. Born in Delhi University, I spent my childhood exploring the last spur of this range, the Northern Ridge. In the nineties I set up a farm in the heart of the Aravallis and built a house using only locally-accessed construction material. Eventually, I also settled in Gurugram on the fringes of the Aravallis' range. I have a deep connect to this ancient mountain range and it continues to be a significant part of my journey. This body of work is inspired by the elements of the Aravallis and combines my love for the region and my passion for photography. It is said art is derived from nature and nature has been a source of inspiration to many artists for centuries.
After 37 years in the realm of advertising photography and with the advent of the digital age, I felt the need to go back to the physicality of image making. I enjoy living more in the world of touch and feel, something that perhaps comes from being born 'analog'. Called 'Tattva' (Sanskrit for 'elements' or 'essence') this project is an interpretation of four natural elements from the Aravallis, through four of the oldest photographic printing processes dating back to the 19th century. This is also a story of origins demonstrated by deconstructing the pure essence of the Aravallis by virtue of the purest forms of printing processes in photography. It is also about explorations at different levels. While at one level this was about exploring the Aravallis through the digital lens, the second significant exploration took place in the dimly-lit darkrooms where images were interpreted and presented accordingly. Several thousand images of the Aravallis exist in the digital world, but this perhaps may be the first time that images have been interpreted based on the elements they are drawn from. Each piece, in this project, has a little bit of the Aravallis in it. This is - 'Aravalli Deconstructed'
Elements & Processes
Each of these processes goes back to a time when alchemists, in their search for elements sensitive to light, stumbled upon ideas of image making. The processes represented in Tattva, borrow one natural element each from the Aravallis. Tattva is a manifestation of my exploration and experimentation with dimensions of land and its many metaphors. These works evoke a layered dialogue with varied conceptual frameworks from defining moments in the development and evolution of photography. It is atribute to this special mountain range and the collection presented here is a result of my exploratory visits over the last few years.
Creativity often emerges from accidents and these vintage printmaking processes have a curious unpredictability to them. Besides being hard to tame, they are based on several variables and a certain erratic beauty emerges from these imperfections.
An eminent commercial and travel photographer, Aditya Arya began professional photography in 1980 after graduating in History from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University. After a brief stint in Mumbai Film Industry where he did stills for some of the leading directors, he moved back to Delhi. In addition to his wide-ranging commercial and travel portfolio, his work has been published widely in books and travel magazines around the world. He is known for his expertise in the field of advertising and corporate photography, specializing in products, interiors and food.
Over the last few years, he has been completely immersed in the subject and practice of photographic conservation. He has honed his skills and knowledge on preservation, restoration and archiving particularly through the documentation of historic photographic works from the famous Kulwant Roy Collection of the pre and post Independence era. He has played a pivotal role in the establishment of India Photo Archive Foundation and the Neel Dongre Awards/Grants for Excellence in Photography.
At present, while also actively pursuing his professional advertising and commercial assignments, he divides his time between his photography archive and Museo Camera - the only Photography and Camera Museum in India. With more than 1000 rare and iconic cameras and other equipment, this museum traces the history of photography from the 1870s to the digital era.
Today in the fast-paced world of megapixels he is also immersing himself in the slowness of analog processes and, at the same time, slowing down many born-digital photographers and artists by mentoring them. Aditya has also turned alchemist and artist, practicing and teaching the art of vintage photographic processes such as salt prints, egg albumen prints, gum bichromate and wet plate photography. He has been on the Jury of the National Art Exhibition 2014 organized by Lalit Kala Akademi and many other national shows. He has also curated several shows of archival and contemporary visual works, both nationally and internationally. These include the National Gallery of Modern Art and National Museum, New Delhi, and several galleries and museums in Canada, the UK, France, and Spain. He is a guest faculty at Sri Aurobindo Centre of Art and Communication, and also previously at the Jamia Millia Islamia University's Institute of Mass Communication. He was most recently a mentor at Habitat Photosphere, a photography festival initiative by Visual Arts Galley, India Habitat Centre. He was also the director at the Academy for Photographic Excellence (APEX), one of the India's leading photography academies based in New Delhi, and a guest fellow and curator at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Aditya's passion for working with his hands extends to his farm where he grows a range of pesticide-free vegetables and medicinal plants.