A photograph shows a middle-aged woman sitting at a cafe in Brighton, sipping beer and glancing over her left shoulder. Beside it, is a picture of a man, somewhere in Morocco, looking to his right. But, the cheeky arrangement of these two pictures by artist Arzan Khambatta will have the viewer convinced that the man and woman are seated next to each other as if they are a couple.
These images are among Khambatta’s first experiments with photography as he shows his work along with former journalist Sona Bahadur and lensman Pritam Banerjee. The group show, titled, “Triptych” (literally meaning an arrangement of three photographs), opened at Gallery Art and Soul, Worli, on Friday.
“The exhibition is a travel diary of sorts since all three of us are passionate about travelling,” says Mumbai-based Khambatta, known for his metal sculptures. “But until now, my photos only found space on my Facebook wall. Since Sona, Pritam and I have worked together before, we thought it would be fun to do a show together,” says the Mumbai-based sculptor. Friends for several years, the three would often meet and discuss their individual work, but often, their conversation would veer towards their shared passion. After one such meet-up some months ago, the three decided to collaborate.
Since the three bring in varying experiences from different professional spheres, it would be interesting to see how the exhibition shapes up when their ideas converge. While Khambatta has some professional training in photography, Bahadur’s love for the art was born from working with photographers during her days as the editor of a food magazine. “Photography was always a hobby and the idea of taking it to the professional level was exciting,” says Bahadur.
Her series takes root in a pact made with a friend many years ago. “We had decided we would meet in a different part of the world once every year. And my constant companion on those trips was my camera,” says Bahadur. Her journalistic instinct is visible in her hunt for stories through pictures. For instance, she captures the vibe of the sleepy Kangaroo Island in Australia as she points her lens at run-down cars with smiley-faced charms hanging by the rear-view mirror or the old broken-down fridge propped up at the corner of a street to be used as a make-shift mailbox.
There is also a give-and-take of sorts. As artist Khambatta delves into professional photography, lensman Banerjee borrows a leaf out of the sculptor’s book and attempts an art installation for the show. “The work consists of models of five continents on which the photos are displayed. These models are placed in an anti-gravity environment, making them seem as if they are suspended mid-air,” Banerjee says, “Since we were all stepping out of our comfort zone, I wanted to push the envelope too and try my hand at something new.”