At the climax of his photographic journey, he becomes intimately personal, dissolving the rigidity of forms and structures. But the journey that took him to that place of an internal investigation is grounded in the revelations that different phases of his career provided him. Born in Calcutta, the genesis of Prabuddha Dasgupta’s career lay in his indulgence with portraits. He has produced both commissioned and personal pieces of work. Almost all of his colour photographs belong to commissioned projects. Even then, irrespective of Dasgupta’s expertise, amongst the differences that he manages to capture between these two strains of photography, the commercial approach is deeply rooted in our inherent wish “to be as we appear, rather than appear as we are” hoping that expression and body language will convey our aspirations or indifference to those who may later gaze upon our visage. On the other hand, his character traits as a portrait artist which he would later imply in his more personal projects are visibly planted even in his earlier rhetoric of image-making.
The dialectical tensions and transitions between academic art import and oriental art tradition achieve formal synthesis in the aesthetic trajectory of Raghubir Singh. These non-photographic traditions can be astutely read as proto-modernist models that awaited the language of photography in the age of advanced modernism. Singh’s work is geographically categorised by territorial, cultural-historical, and ecological distinctions (Rajasthan, Kashmir, Kumbh Mela, The Ganges, The Grand Trunk Road, etc.). Yet, the density of human actions and their multifaceted interactions with immediate social circumstances surpass the burden of trite cultural signifiers associated with these spaces. What comes across in all his works, despite the different geographical locations and content, is the formalist contiguity of manifold gestures and intuitive movements in India’s social habitat….
Bohun Lynch in his book A History of Caricature (1926) writes, “…….we may say that caricature is, amongst the other things, the portrayal of an individual, as seen by another, without regard to the rules of drawing. Joseph Conrad, in Nostromo, speaks (and as it happens without any apparent thought of caricature in his mind) of “putting the face of a joke upon the body of truth”, which very neatly serves to describe at least one aspect of the art.”
Caricatures can simply be a form of entertainment-or the art can be employed to make deep intellectual engagement-Sem’s caricatures managed (and still manages) to do both.
“Caricatures are known for their play between distortion and recognition, violence and humour, entertaining mockery and thoughtful inquisition. To understand the political-aesthetics of caricatures and their fluidity in containing critical political positions, it would be interesting to revisit Gaganendranath Tagore’s short but prolific stint in caricature drawings. I would attempt to reflect on the interaction between caricature as a form and Gaganendranath’s political project in the context of the nationalist movement.”