Waswo X Waswo - Photowallah

Photowallah includes photographs from two bodies of work by artist Waswo X.Waswo: A Studio in Rajasthan and New Myths. In these photographs, Waswo playfully examines the genres of both the ethnographic photograph-as-document that is linked to the colonial era, as well as the fantasy-inspired make-believe that has emanated from traditional Indian portrait studios.

Ranging from shots of single figures to theatrically arranged tableaux, these photographs feature everyone from Gauri dancers to flower sellers, farmers, school children and the village ‘bad boys’. In the tradition of pictorialism, Waswo’s carefully crafted images — with their pastoral backdrops beautifully painted by Zenule Khan, Chiman Dangi, Anil Atrish and Dalpat Singh Jingar, and hand-tinted after printing by Rajesh Soni — resonate with a romantic sensibility, while yet remaining humorously self-aware and self-reflexive.

An inspired mix of homage and critique, these images straddle both the line between individualisation and homogenisation, and the vintage and the contemporary. The constructed tensions between conflicting, but simultaneous, impulses make these photographs astute and witty commentaries on the nature of stereotyping, portraiture, temporality and representation.

Through their paradoxes and parodying, these images compel viewers to rethink their initial perceptions, question the dialogue set up between photographer and model, and eventually challenge the viewer’s own preconceptions.

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