Monumental Terracotta

14, Sep 2018 to 04, Oct 2018
A show of archival photographs by Sanjay Das
with terracotta installation by Rahul Modak

I have an undying love for the timeless. The more ephemeral it is, the more everlasting my appreciation of it. I like to catch the feeting and wonder if it can become permanent. The dichotomy fascinates and engages me. How does an artist make the ephemeral, eternal? The hands that built with stone knew they were building for eternity. But what of terracotta? Did the hands that mould the soft clay in Bishnupur hundreds of years ago, know that it would last this long? How does such a soft, impermanent material transform into buildings of such breathtaking beauty that have survived till today?Perhaps it is that many events must come together for us to witness these vestiges of history. Perhaps, those events are made up of a series of epic moments when some put their hands together to shape soft clay that stands the test of time and some, like Sanjay Das pick up the camera.

With the photo-archival works of the terracotta temples of Bankura and Murshidabad district in West Bengal, Delhi based photographer Sanjay Das builds a case for such a paradox. ‘Engineered’ with locally found, fine alluvial clay baked to hardness, these temples have withstood the passage of time. In some of his photographs one can still find a devotee bowing before the gods in reverence. Some four hundred years of time has lapsed between the making and the mulling and yet the devotee and the contemplated stand under the long exposure of the sun as equals. The series of his works exhibited at this show is a culmination of decades of travelling, shooting,ndocumenting and studying them and bears testimony to his depth in the feld and breadth of experience.

Through the riveting repository of his works, the terracotta edifces of the past once again relive their moments of medieval glory in the hope for survival, preservation and continuity into the future. Sanjay, a master lensman has conjured up images of hitherto, rarely known temples in rarer mediums and formats such that the skill and artistic vision that was required in building these edifces lends itself to a narrative in the contemporary visual language.