Gangadharan Menon's Unique Photographs Are An Exploration Of Patterns And Textures Of Street Walls

Gangadharan Menon's Unique Photographs Are An Exploration Of Patterns And Textures Of Street Walls

This exhibition was made of diverse elements ranging from symmetrical lines to competing colours

Shloka ShuklaUpdated: Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 01:33 PM IST
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They say that walls have ears, but amidst the bleak, barren streets during the lockdown, when the world was at a standstill, the walls started to whisper as people remained isolated. Gangadharan Menon, a Mumbai based wildlife photographer and writer, decided to put his ears to the walls and use his camera to amplify these composite whispers.

‘Walls.Paintings.’ is a harmonious photo series ranging from pictures that have minimal elements to others that have competing colours and dynamic compositions. From broken tiles to chipped paint on walls, each image told a story of its own, a testament of the vitality of our streets, pointing out that perspective plays an important role in understanding the world around us. The photos were exhibited at Ecole Intuit Lab, a French Design College where he teaches- in collaboration with Design Naka 2024.

Menon found inspiration in the most unexpected of places and embarked on a year-long journey through the city’s deserted alleys and forgotten corners, seeking out the beauty in the lifeless- uncovering the charm in the mundane.

Excerpts from the interview:

There is a certain ‘disturbance’ in every picture. What does it represent to you?

I would say there’s a certain vibrancy in every picture of mine, rather than a disturbance. And that vibrancy is caused by the interplay of various forms and colours within each frame.

How do you manage to present your artwork with such cohesion?

It was not a cohesion that I consciously created. This cohesion was right there in front of me –— existing on the walls. I had to just ‘see’ it and capture it.

Can you tell me about your process? Do you plan your endeavours or go with the flow?

All ideas come out of the blue, out of nowhere. You can’t plan for it. In the case of this particular exhibition, I accidentally spotted an interesting ‘painting’ on a wall. And that triggered off a series. I kept looking for ‘abstract’ paintings for close to a year during Covid, and found over 40 of them. So in that sense, I went with the flow.

What makes you feel ‘I need to capture this moment’?

It is usually ‘serendipity’, which is a beautiful accident. Once you get that one picture, a series unfolds in front of you. You have to just keep your eyes open.

What do you want people to keep in mind when they see your artwork?

My main inspiration while doing this series is titled ‘wall.paintings.’ is a quote from Van Gogh who said, ‘I look for beauty even in a garbage dump.’ So once I accidentally spotted beauty on a mundane wall in Mumbai, I started looking for more. And the more I looked, the more I found. What I want the viewers to realize is that you don’t have to go to beautiful places to find beauty. It could be found on a nondescript wall right next to your house.

What do you want to get across to the audience through your artwork?

I had 23 photographs displayed in this exhibition. Every single viewer had her/his own favourite set of images. And each viewer saw different things in different pictures. That’s the beauty of abstract art. You don’t see things as they are; you see things as you are.

How did the lockdown period inspire you?

Lockdown was a blessing in disguise for me. It made an outward travel photographer like me look inward. I started looking at the interiors of my house, my building, my street, and my city. And it made me realize that you don’t need to go far to find beauty. It’s all there right next to you. You just have to find it. Two people who inspired me to do these wall paintings were Jayant B Joshi, a photographer from Pune, and Shanthi Kasi, a photographer from Mumbai.

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