Portraits of a City

An exhibition by French photographer Manuel Bougot captures the various facets of Chandigarh — Le Corbusier’s architecture in the city,its people and their lives

Written by Prajakta Hebbar | Published: September 11, 2012 12:20 am

An exhibition by French photographer Manuel Bougot captures the various facets of Chandigarh — Le Corbusier’s architecture in the city,its people and their lives

During a visit to Neuilly — a suburb near Paris — photographer Manuel Bougot came across a building that changed his perspective on architecture forever. Known as the Jaoul Houses,the building — consisting of modest brown structures — was designed by Swiss-French architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret,better known as Le Corbusier. Something in its “rigid simplicity and modern functionality” got Bougot to embark upon an expedition to Chandigarh,where Le Corbusier had worked in the late ’40s at the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru.

At the opening of his exhibition titled “Chandigarh: Portrait of a City” at the Photoink gallery in Delhi on Saturday,Bougot said,“These are the pictures I took during my two trips to Chandigarh — one in January 2009 and the other in January 2010.” The collection of 75-odd works portray various aspects of the life in the quiet city — portraits of government officials,long shots of buildings by Le Corbusier and even the interiors of a local cinema hall. One particularly interesting shot is of the back entrance of the Legislative Assembly in Chandigarh. Taken in the soft lighting during the winter of 2010,the picture is composed of three horizontal layers — a garden,the building and its parking lot.

However,Bougot insists that what started as an experiment to shoot Le Corbusier’s works evolved into a profile of the city itself. “I realised that along with shooting the buildings,I was also interested in shooting its people and their lives,” he says. For example,his picture of the Panjab University’s boys’ hostel in Sector 14 — a long shot of the red brick building with clothes hanging out to dry on various terraces and a student studying in the sun — throws light on the simple student life in Punjab.

Thoroughly charmed by the Punjabi hospitality,Bougot intends to travel to Chandigarh again some day. “To begin with,I’m planning to hold a small exhibition of my works there,as a small thank you to the warmest people I’ve met,” he says.

“Chandigarh: Portrait of a City” is on at Photoink,Jhandewalan,till October 27. Contact: 28755940

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