Raghu Rai - Divine Moments

RAGHU RAI (b.1942) originally trained as a civil engineer, before taking up photography at the age of 23, in 1965. A year later, he joined the New Delhi-based national weekly magazine ‘The Statesman’ as their chief photographer, moving on after 10 years to become the picture editor with the prestigious Kolkata based weekly, ‘Sunday’. In 1977 he returned to New Delhi to become the picture editor, as well as its active photographer, for the leading national weekly, ‘India Today’. Henri Cartier Bresson saw an exhibition of Rai’s in Paris at the Galerie Delpire in 1971, and was sufficiently impressed to nominate him to the world-famous Magnum Photo Agency. In the same year he was honoured by the Indian Government with the Padmashree Award-approximately India’s equivalent to a knighthood. 

Unlike many Magnum photographers who have chosen to explore the world on their photography assignments, Raghu Rai has deliberately remained focussed on the universality of Indian life and its many cultures. His work has become known world wide both through exhibitions, book publications and through major international magazine photo-essays. This exhibition has been selected from his wide-ranging photographic oeuvre, to focus on his work in the photography of the street and other public spaces. He has written ‘I like being amongst my own people; I merge with them; I don’t wear stylish clothes; I have one camera with zoom lens so I do not alarm people; no-one says ‘Here comes the photographer’’. Immersing himself in the life of ordinary, anonymous people to record the minutiae of their lived experience, he pays homage to the ever-changing diversity of life in the subcontinent.

– Saleem Arif Quadri

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