Derry Moore first came to India in 1976, visiting Bombay (now Mumbai) and Hyderabad with the idea of photographing a country that was fast developing but still showed remnants of its past. In an exhibition titled Evening Ragas, 60 photographs taken by Moore over his several visits to India in the past three decades will be showcased in Bangalore.
“In the event what fascinated me was not simply the places themselves but also the hybrid quality of many of the lesser buildings that had been constructed since the first arrival of the British in India. A cultural osmosis was clearly discernible, that of British and European architecture on Indian buildings, and that of India and its climate, as well as its styles, on the British,” Moore, 75, writes in his artist’s note. His visits to India still continue, making the project an ongoing process.
Abhishek Poddar, director of Tasveer art gallery, who first heard of Moore through an English artist and friend Anthony Fry, invited Moore to show his works at galleries across the country early this year. “ His photographs show an India that existed and even though some images have been taken as recently as last year, they are of an era that was,” says Poddar, adding that what struck him about Moore’s images was that they all seem like they have been composed and shot with a patience that does not reside in younger artists. “There is nothing hurried about it,” Poddar adds.
Moore, the 12th Earl of Drogheda, Ireland, is known for photographing the interiors and portraits of European aristocracy. Thirty-seven of his portraits are in the collection of London’s National Portrait Gallery.
The photographs at the exhibition are a combination of portraits, interiors and landscape that document a pre-modernized India.
“To take most of these photographs today would be impossible, so much of India having changed beyond recognition over the past 22 years,” Moore writes in his artist’s note, adding that not only have the buildings been replaced by tower blocks but also that people have lost individuality in their looks.
“I have never seen him work personally, but I do know that he continues to work with film format,” says Poddar, accepting that though the idea of nostalgia is common, these images, he says, have the patina of age. Moore in his works has attempted to record his personal experiences journeying through Lucknow’s aristocracy; Mumbai’s tolerant Parsi community; Rajasthan, which seemed to him unaffected by the modernity that the rest of the country was latching on to in the 1970s; and Madras (now Chennai), which was already becoming an industrial centre.
Evening Ragas will be on from 10am-6pm from 14 October-29 November (Sundays closed) at the Tasveer gallery at Sua House, 26/1 Kasturba Cross Road, Bangalore (40535217).