Andreas Volwahsen - Living Architecture
Tasveer is delighted to announce its first exhibition of photographs by Andreas Volwahsen. Dr. Andreas Volwahsen, born in 1941 in Germany, is chiefly celebrated as an architectural historian. This exhibition, however, focuses on an element of his work that has long demanded more attention – his photography. The photographs in this exhibition were originally taken to illustrate his first two academic books, ‘Living Architecture: Islamic India’ (1968) and ‘Living Architecture: India’ (1971). As illustrations they add an extraordinary dimension to his work, but also rise far above the merely descriptive. They demonstrate his aspirations for a deeper understanding of ancient Indian architecture, but also reveal strong formal undercurrents of German modernist photography. These photographs are exhibited publicly by Tasveer for the first time, as independent works in their own right.
Volwahsen was troubled by a trend in Western observers to look upon India’s architecture with amazement, rather than understanding. The immense wealth of forms and lack of immediately recognisable European comparisons made viewing India’s temples, mosques and palaces a challenging affair for those in the West. Volwahsen aimed to penetrate through the potentially bewildering and overwhelming, to inquire into the canons and laws that governed the work of ancient Indian architects. He analysed the historical, social and religious background of a structure and provided diagrams and plans, but perhaps his most powerful tool was his photographic work. The consistent use of black and white mutes any distracting details and the balanced, square format compositions emphasise the underlying geometry and symmetry. Volwahsen’s focus on structure is even evident when photographing the sumptuous details and embellishments on Hindu temples. Rather than staging a tourist attraction, he stresses the design and technical perfection of India’s architecture.
Despite distancing himself from a prevailing European perspective, the photography is strongly influenced by photographic trends in Germany at the time. Under the influence of the ‘New Objectivity’ movement, modernist photographers had turned their attention towards the depiction of common objects. Their isolation of details and focus on forms, symmetry and balance is also evident in Volwahsen’s compositions. Especially apparent in his close ups, the refined use of light, contrasting tonal fields and use of angles takes the subject matter of archways, domes and columns towards pure form and abstraction. Perhaps these formal inclinations explain why he was so drawn to the simple geometric forms of Maharajah Jai Singh II’s observatories.
Through these photographs we can appreciate the extraordinary subject matter and pay tribute to the architects and craftsmen responsible. Furthermore, in standing these photographs apart from his written work, we can also enjoy them on a more formal level.
Kolkata07 September - 17 September 2013
36C S. P. Mukherjee Road
Mumbai02 December - 10 December 2013
22/26 K. Dubhash Marg
Mumbai - 400023
Delhi28 February - 14 February 2014
The Oberoi Hotel
Dr. Zakir Hussain Marg
New Delhi 110003
Ahmedabad28 March - 06 April 2014
National Institute of Design
Bangalore09 May - 31 May 2014
26/1 Kasturba Cross Road
Bangalore – 560001
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