In partnership with Vacheron Constantin, supported by Singleton

Sunil Janah - Vintage Photographs, 1940 - 1960

Tasveer and the Swaraj Art Archive are delighted to present a selection of Sunil Janah - Vintage Photographs, 1940 - 1960 at Sua House, Bangalore. This selection of vintage prints made by Janah forms part of a larger show originally curated by Ram Rahman from the Swaraj Art Archive’s collection and the private preview on 5th March will include a curated walkthrough by Rahman at 6.30 pm. Sunil Janah (1918 - 2012) was a prominent Indian photojournalist and documentary photographer, particularly noted for chronicling the Indian independence movement, the Bengal famine, the Nehruvian era and his studies of tribal communities. Reintroducing his historically significant images to a contemporary audience, this exhibition brings together a range of photographs that are representative of three primary streams of his documentation project: peasant and tribal communities; dancers from the late 1940s and early 1950s; and industrial photographs from the 1950s. These photographs are also of particular importance since a number of these images are no longer part of Janah’s own archive; and despite his prodigious output, only a handful of vintage prints made by Janah exist in private collections. This is largely due to the fact that though an active photographer, Janah made relatively few final prints, added to which he was a recluse and disinclined to sell his work, which he was very protective of. 

“A careful printer,Janah also used different toners while finishing prints. These prints had many different colour tonalities, tones and textures. One of the many unfortunate problems with all of Janah’s work which survives in printed reproduction is that the reproductions never captured those colours, tones and patina of the originals”, Rahman deplores. Seeking to address that, none of these vintage photographs have been retouched or restored in any manner; the highlight as Rahman points out being that they are a revelation, giving “viewers a unique chance to see the work of a major photographer in the way he intended to be seen.” The photographs in this exhibition include both ‘unfinished’ (not spotted or retouched) and ‘finished’ prints. In some instances, prints bear heavy surface retouching attributed to his wife Shobha, Rahman notes, since Janah’s own poor eyesight would require him to hold prints up close in order to see details. These photographs may therefore be of varying quality and importance, nevertheless, they are of singular significance as products of a particular historical moment — reflected in the documentary form, as much as in their content. Furthermore, they are all expressive of a raw emotional intensity that is characterestic of Janah’s expressive aesthetic.


Exhibition Schedule


06 March - 27 March 2022

Sua House
26/1 Kasturba Cross Road
Bangalore 560001
Monday to Saturday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm