Buildings through the veteran lens


October 27, 2014

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Catch the last day of photographer Aspi Patel’s show, Architecture Beyond Platitude, at the Jehangir Art Gallery, where he captures graphical patterns in architecture from across the world

Article By Hassan M Kamal | Mid-Day

Led by a strong desire to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, 63-year-old photographer Aspi Patel has created a set of visuals that establishes why it’s important to look at architecture as more than just a cluster of mortar and steel.


Some of the photographs that capture architecture from across the world

Titled Architecture Beyond Platitude, the show offers a collection of photographs, which Patel clicked over a period of 10 years during his travels across the world; featuring cities like New York, Washington DC, Sydney, Manhattan, Melbourne, and Mumbai. “It was Manhattan that inspired me,” says Patel, who begun exploring photography only after his marriage. “My agency wanted me to try black-and-white transparencies, so I went out capturing the Manhattan skyline. The result was amazing.”


Photographer Aspi Patel

But unlike the start, the exhibition was never an accident, emphasises Patel, adding that after Manhattan, he went around the world capturing an extraordinary aspect of buildings. “The idea was always there — that I wanted to show architecture in a certain way. So whenever I have been travelling, I always look for ‘that’ picture. It’s always there at the back of

my mind.”


The works on display will marvel the onlookers, especially, with how line, form, texture and colour play with light and shadow to create strong impressions — on the canvas as well as on the onlooker. Patel stresses that the idea running across this exhibition was to find graphical patterns in architecture. “I believe that architecture should be presented in a way where buildings convey as well as generate a strong emotional response from the onlookers. That’s the whole purpose of fine art photography.”


More often, these emotions were born out of instincts. “I follow my instincts. If I see something, and my heart tells me I should capture it, I take that picture. I shoot by my heart,” says Patel.

The works, showing at the Jehangir Art Gallery (Terrace) is the only the second exhibition of Patel, the first was in 1990 (also at the Jehangir Art Gallery ), where he showcased his photographs of trees with his friend Cyrus Rao. Few years after that exhibition, Patel, who was handling the family business at the time, sold everything to focus on photography.

His works got him admiration at home and internationally, but he never made photography his career, and still refers to himself as a hobbyist. “When you work commercially, you have 10 different people telling you what they want.

I find that very limiting. Here, as a hobbyist, I am free to shoot anything,” he says, adding, that he takes a few photography and event assignments every now and then, so as to be able to buy new camera equipment. “As you would know, photography is a really expensive hobby,” he signs off.