I Have A Dream: A photo exhibition that focuses on light, the drama created by its shadows

Printed on stainless steel and paper, George K’s photographs of Southern Temples, Madras Central Jail and Kashmir paint a dreamlike landscape of past, present and existentialism.

Printed on stainless steel and paper, George K’s photographs of Southern Temples, Madras Central Jail and Kashmir paint a dreamlike landscape of past, present and existentialism.

George K is the artistic pseudonym of financier turned multimedia artist Dilip Kuruvilla. After working in painting and sculpture, with several successful exhibitions under his belt, he has now turned to photography.

As you enter the leafy surroundings of the Apparao Galleries, a small door opens into the show divided into three series, the first two rooms are a collection of images where the photographer was inspired by a visit to a city of southern temples where there is a tradition of offering statues of oneself with dreams and promises to the lord of the temple.

I Have A Dream is the inspirational title of the collection, used by Martin Luther King and inspired by Gandhi; Over time, this line has been an inspiration for equality in many ways.

The images are in grey, black and white on stainless steel as well as on photographic paper. Row after row of dense statues, some fallen, others messy and leaning over each other in the underbrush, the texture of the images plays with the light on the stainless steel surfaces.

more than words

Many of the photographs have texts from the poem written by George. The 72-year-old artist retouched small details like bindiand tilak on the forehead and paints the eyes. Suddenly, the statues come alive, look at each other. An older lady looks at a younger couple and a gentleman looks at another friend; each thinking his thoughts and dreaming his dreams.

George says, “To me, photography is a darshan, it follows the eye in memory; of a seen image, which establishes my place in the world. My way of seeing is affected by what I know or what I believe, because we only see what we look at. Looking is an act of choice. However, we never look at just one thing. Our vision is continuously active, in motion, evaluating the images around us. The eye of the other combines with my own eye to reinforce that I am part of this visible world. My memory image goes through the process of darshan.

George.  K

George. K | Photo credit: Ravindran_R

Song Sung Blue is a series of photographs inspired by George’s visit to Kashmir in 2006, a time of turmoil in the valley. Dabbed in acrylic colors – cobalt blue, neon orange and deep red – the series brings a sense of hope and color to a bleak situation.

Images of empty houses, barbed wire, collapsed windows and roofs remind us of grief and loss. Kashmir’s exceptional wooden architecture, scorched structures and uninhabited spaces are reminders of the horrors of history.

Elaborating on this project, George says: “The poignancy of Kashmir’s architecture ravaged by destruction, strong, dramatic and silent sentinels, testifies to the recent history of the region.

Freedom Calls Series

Freedom Calls Series

freedom calls is the latest series of photographs featuring Madras Central Jail, one of our oldest prisons begun in 1837 under British rule and renamed Central Jail in 1855 after being called Madras Penitentiary.

Madras Central Jail housed many freedom fighters during the early years of the independence movement, including Subhash Chandra Bose and Vir Savarkar. Its other inmates include Dravidian icons CN Annadurai, Mu Karunanidhi and J Jayalalitha.

Often, the prison was used as a place of transition for people transported to the cell prison or ‘Kalapani’ in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Freedom Calls Series

Freedom Calls Series

The prison housed the infamous Auto Shankar as well as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader V Prabhakaran. Large photographs on stainless steel, these images are covered with images. Light creates a certain two-dimensionality, whether it streams through windows or prison bars, fueling hope.

This building has now been demolished, but the visuals of the show remind us of what it means to be trapped. Are we imprisoned by our thoughts or are we able to live a free life?

Commenting on the series, George says, “The focus is on the light and the drama created by its shadows. The expression and underlying relationships are hope, the spirit of freedom and the human desire to be free. The work is on stainless steel and is lines in a grid. It is about freeing oneself from the existential pattern of life.

George.  K

George. K | Photo credit: Ravindran_R

Three completely disconnected visual themes allow us to be inspired, confronted and have hope in the way we engage with the world. This is where the skill of the photographer and the curation lies. As a final comment, George leaves me with this reflection on beauty: “I try to portray beauty through photographs, paintings and sculptures altered in form and non-form, from the sensual to the spiritual. I try to pierce the facade and unmask the beauty beneath the image. It is a journey of self-discovery.

Until September 3 at Apparao Galleries, Nungambakkam.

Jack C. Nugent