Architecture Beyond Platitude: Aspi H. Patel


April 7, 2016

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Architecture Beyond Platitude is the title of a new coffee table book by Aspi Patel. Readers of Parsi Khabar will remember Aspi’s 2014 exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery by the same name. The coffee table book is a product of the same exhibition where the exhibition viewers exhorted Aspi to turn these beautiful images into a keep sake book.

The book is published and distributed by BLOGIMLY and the unveiling shall be by Film maker Oorvazi Irani.

The book launch is this Saturday April 9th at 4:00 PM at the Dinodia 1 x 1 Art Gallery in Nariman Point.

Date: Saturday, April 9th 2016

Time: 4:00 PM

Address: Dinodia 1 x 1 Art Gallery, 66 Bajaj Bhawan, 6th floor, Opp. INOX, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400 021, INDIA

The foreword to this book has been written by Jagdish Agarwal and the preface by Architect Jamshed Sethna, both published herewith, with the authors permission.



Aspi: The Silent Photographer

Foreword Jagdish Agarwal

My earliest memories of Aspi Patel are in the outings of PSI – The Photographic Society of India nearly forty years ago. He was a very quiet photographer and went about his photography without making too much noise, as some photographers do, that they have found a wonderful composition, whereas Aspi would silently compose his pictures and would come up with beautiful haunting landscapes. I still remember some of his trees standing majestically in the rain washed bright green fields.

Many a times his pictures would win awards in photography contests. Naturally when I started the first photography library in India, I requested Aspi to give me his colour slides for marketing. He readily agreed and was one of the first to join Dinodia Picture Agency.

Once when Aspi was going to New York, he came and asked me what to shoot. I remember telling him to photograph architecture in black and white. He did a great job. The way he saw the buildings was different. Instead of seeing the structure as a building, he saw light & shade, line & from, design & pattern, making the images a piece of fine art. Like a painter starts with a blank canvas and adds elements, he aggregates, so also a photographer removes elements and focuses on the essentials of a photographer. In that sense, Aspi is a master eliminator, he starts with the whole building and eliminates, till he finds the perfect composition, a window, a balcony, a light, etc.

Over the years, Aspi exhibited regularly in salons and has over 700 Acceptances and various Awards and Certificates of Merit in National and International exhibitions of photography, including an Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO prize in 1989. He also served on the Panel of Jury for many National and International Salons / Exhibitions.

He has been conferred with the following Honours:

(i) ‘Associateship’ of The Photographic Society of India, Mumbai, (APSI) in the year 1985.

(ii) ‘Associateship’ of India International Photographic Council, New Delhi, (AIIPC) in the year 1986.

(iii) He is also recognized and conferred Honours as ‘Artist. FIAP’ (A.FIAP) by The Federation Internationale De La Art of Photographique, Belgium, for his excellence in pictorial colour Transparencies, in the year 1996.

In January 2012 he was conferred Honorary Membership of The Photographic Society of India.

He has held two Exhibitions ‘Gorgeous Trappings’ and ‘Architecture Beyond Platitude’ at the prestigious Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.

He has been active in The Photographic Society of India by giving slide shows, lectures, articles published in club newsletters, conducted Basic Comprehensive courses in photography and being a Managing Committee member. Such a long and comprehensive carreer.

I will remember Aspi for his simple graphic compositions because he makes his images timeless and one wants to see them again and again.

Jagdish Agarwal is the founder of the first photo library of India –


Preface by Jamshed Sethna

Architecture Beyond Platitude: Photographic Images Through Line Form Texture & Colour – by Aspi H. Patel,

A single word to describe this wonderful book – Understated.

How wonderfully it has been compiled. For a non-initiate in Architecture Aspi Patel has done a remarkable job. Through his eyes and through the lens of his camera he shows the world images beyond steel and glass, brick and mortar; the lattices of Temple Emanu-el New York look like embroidery and the shadows at Trident resemble cones. The eye of the beholder is actually seen here.

His images are devoid of any frills. No filters and devoid of needless corrections commonly seen today in photography. One of his first images in the book aptly says, “Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the stability of thy times”. The Janus seems to have emerged here, at the Plaza Side Entrance of the Rockefeller Center New York.

“Ah! There goes the critic!” a cynic might say. He shows the images of the Empire State Building, New York and that of Hilla Towers with equal aplomb. One in chic New York and the other in our dear to all Lalbaug, Mumbai. They are both majestic in their own way. One reminds the viewer of solid lines soaring in the sky, the other lets you caress its curves in the evening sun light.

This is a marvelous book for both “Architects” and “Non-Architects”. It bridges the gap here. For one to understand the essence of Modern Architecture one has to go back to the roots of Classical Architecture as well. One example – the Atlas sculpture at Rockefeller in the foreground and a similar one in the foreground in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Both complement their majestic Backgrounds soaring into the sky, through humble doors below – one to the house of God and the other through the pinnacles of worldly wealth.

Students of Architecture and also Architects just wet behind their ears would immensely benefit from Aspi’s photographs. For one, it is not just the line, curves, foregrounds, backgrounds, textures, colours, shades, solids, voids and all the normal terms students drop during 5 years of their curriculum but the sheer majesty and the dignity of buildings expressed here through his photographs that otherwise very often gets sacrificed at the altar of mundane so called trends or styles, sometimes municipal bye-laws and bureaucracy in many a metropolis today.

This wonderful book needs to be cherished and preserved as a testimony of some wonderful Architectural works and its photographs by Aspi H. Patel for generations to come in the future.

Jamshed Z. Sethna