Visual vocabulary of black and white

He started photography in 1970’s when colour photography was non-existent, and transited from B&W to colour, the opposite of what it is for most people.

Published: 22nd April 2018 08:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2018 08:51 AM   |  A+A-

Colours say a thousand words. But what if you had to say it all in black and white? Would that conversation be as dynamic, we wonder? “Without a question,” pat comes the reply from photographer Achal Kumar. In an exhibition titled Landscape, he communicates zestfully through two hues, not once making colours his crutches. Thus, also answering our question.

Kumar has never let colours ‘colour’ his perspective of B&W visuals. He started photography in 1970’s when colour photography was non-existent, and transited from B&W to colour, the opposite of what it is for most people. “In B&W, one needs to have strong image. There are no colours to divert your attention. If your composition is weak, the photo falls flat,” says Kumar. 

The spectrum of this genre extends to everything from portraits, landscapes, figures and abstract. Contrasts are brought out beautifully in a B&W picture, in fact, it’s one of its strength. Because you don’t have colours to trigger emotions, shadows, shapes and textures become predominant.

“I rely on a strong narrative, sound composition, its tonalities, its half tones, and treatment of the subject at every stage, right from shooting to printing. B&W emphasis on conveying a feeling, an experience, an emotion that touched you,” he says.  This is seen in the mist landscapes he’s captured. 

With people shifting to colour, the space of B&W has been vacated. On the other hand, it has become a very serious medium of art and Kumar is glad about it. “I may sound a bit snobbish but yes, it’s not a common man’s arena anymore. It’s for artists and art lovers. There is no reason for the common man to understand anything about it,” says Kumar, who looks up to his father Santosh Santosh (pen name), Ansal Adams, S Paul and T Kashinath. 

Besides the Kumar’s work, the display includes Japanese Sumi-e by Aruna Vasudev. Painting gradations of black or monochrome, Vasudev’s quest is mastering the discipline of this ancient art form introduced by Zen monks. Her little paintings with just one tree, a small tribe, a tall mountain—all exemplify the style. Step inside their world of black and white artistry. On view till April 24, from 11 am to 7 pm, at Open Palm Court, Indian Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road.


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