Presented by sepia EYE and Rossi & Rossi this joint photography exhibition featured vintage black and white photographic prints by Bhupendra Karia and Derry Moore, from the 1960s and 70s, recording a pivotal time in Indian history when the grandeur of the past suddenly collided with the dramatic repositioning of a post-colonial society.
Bhupendra Karia was known as an artist, teacher, and curator. Following his graduation in 1956 from Sir J.J. College of Art in Bombay, where he concentrated on painting, graphics, and history, he studied history and aesthetics at Tokyo University of Fine Arts for three years. It was in Japan that Karia received his photographic education, along with a strong understanding of Ukiyo-e woodblock printmaking and Japanese architecture. He returned to India as a well-versed photographic image-maker. Karia’s thoughtful and luminous photographs, created primarily in India and Israel, reflect a distinct approach separate from the traditional photographic trends, such as street photography, that were so popular in India during this period. With a keen interest in the arts of ceramics, mural painting, and the artisans who produced them, Karia spoke of “listening to India with one’s eyes.” Bhupendra Karia’s photographs possess an ethereal yet formally rigorous quality, deeply steeped in both cultural awareness and personal vision.
Derry Moore is best known for his insightful portraits and images of gardens, houses, and architectural interiors. In 1976, Moore traveled to India to photograph its majestic palaces and lavish homes and their inhabitants, elegantly rendering the charms, eccentricities, and fading splendor that, in post-colonial society, already spoke of a bygone world. He refers to the architecture as well as the individuals as possessing a “hybrid quality – having retained an atmosphere of another era.” Moore published his work from India in 1997 in Evening Ragas: A Photographer in India (John Murray, London). Exploring the light, the space, and the visual contrasts that inform a room and create its essential character is at the core of his vision. His extraordinary images range from portraits to interiors, with landscapes serving as elegant punctuation points. An image of the elongated and sensual curve of a prostitute’s bared back lends a personal and near voyeuristic look into his travels. Joseph Holtzman, the founding editor of Nest, said, regarding Moore’s illumination of the intricate interplay of columns and stairs in the Wankaner Palace in Gujarat, “[he] captures the very air and space of a room, like a magician.”