The black and white frames burst with historical colours. Each print is a moment lived, a time immortalised. Through the kaleidoscope of the past, one enters into a Delhi of the yesteryears. For a rare peep inside this world, an exhibition titled Delhi... That Was has been put together in the capital city.
Photographs from the 1940s to the 1990s have been included in the show that opened on October 4. Through 45 images by the archives of three photographers such as, Habib Rahman, Madan Mahatta and Raghu Rai, these images depict architecture and lifestyles that were and still are prototypical of Delhi.
In 2012, a few photographs from the acclaimed visual artist, Raghu Rai’s collections were shown. It ignited the public’s interest in viewing visuals with a fleeting quality as these prints surface once in a while. After seeing the interest of a large number of people, Curatorial Director of Ojas Art Gallery, Anubhav Nath, decided to put together an exhibition in his gallery. The show includes three stalwarts, two of who are no longer alive. Rai is a living legend who continues to capture Delhi’s exquisite beauty. “We wanted to take it a step ahead and have been working on this show since the last two years,” says Nath.
Rahman’s Rabindra Bhavan series finds a place in this selection. Pictures show the interiors and exteriors of the Bhavan which houses the Lalit Kala Akademi and was designed by Habib Rahman himself. “The image is set in the 1960s and shows the building in its full splendour,” says Nath, adding, “Madan Mahatta’s Queen Elizabeth and Rajendra Prasad, 1961, shows both of them passing through Connaught Place on her visit to India. It is a very unique image with the massive crowds hanging from the balconies and people on the streets. Also, there is no other known image which captures the motorcade. Also, the Pierre Cardin Fashion Show, 1967 shows Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Rajeev and Sonia Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi in the front row. A rare capture.”
Raghu Rai’s Breezy Girl, Humayun’s Tomb, 1973 and Wheat Thrashing at Humayun’s Tomb, 1967 are reminiscent of a time that can never be replicated. “In the last fifty years, photography has seen a paradigm shift. But the purpose remains the same. To capture an evocative moment that reflects the essence of time as this is the visual history of tomorrow,” says Rai. Architectural marvels such as Qutab Minar, the wondrous maze that Jantar Mantar is, and the matrix of streets that Old Delhi is… all have been captured in these prints. The exhibition is a chance to view and own a piece of precious history. At: Ojas Art GalleryTill: November 12