Creative courage is a dangerous horse to ride but Rohit Chawla never got off the saddle during his creative journey at India Today. All his imagery and covers are not just covers, they are stories, they are judgements as much as they are pieces of history. It is only a gifted artist who can convey the politics of the world with the visual language in a meaningful way. In a relentless news cycle and a overwhelmingly visual world he lives with an idealistic hope that a photograph can change the toughest thing in this hard hard world. The human mind.
India Today Group
Oscar Wilde, once famously said “A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.” To which I must shamelessly add that Rohit Chawla’s faces are sheer poetry. In a photographic world leaning perilously on pretence, this is work that is nude and nuanced. Whispering without shouting. Telling without stating. Sometimes to mean much it is imperative to say little.
Collector, Curator & Connoisseur
What Karsh was to politicians of the 1940’s, what Bill Brandt was to the artists in the the 1950’s, what David Bailey was to the musicians of the 1960’s or Annie Liebovitz to Hollywood stars of the 1970’s & 80’s, Rohit Chawla has become to the greatest writers of the 21st century. He has commemorated the literary genii we have brought to Jaipur with portraits that are as intuitive and imaginative as they are unforgettably iconic. These are classic portraits, and they will remain to commemorate the great symposium we have created at the Jaipur Literature Festival long after the subjects have put down their quills.
Writer, historian & co-director JLF
Rohit Chawla brings his unique aesthetic sensibility to food photography. The plates he creates and photographs manage the difficult feat of seeming artistically pleasing while retaining the sensuous appeal that is so integral to good food. I’ve never seen food photography like this in India and i hope that this is the beginning of a trend.
Food Critic & Journalist
A curtained pupil sees without looking. For when the eyes close the outer world fades, the seer becomes more acutely aware of the inner world. A state of absolute submission before the perceiving eye of the camera, the chronicler of stolen stillness in the passage of life. Every face a story divided between the revealed and the concealed. What stirs behind the eyelids creates the serenity in these portraits into a text of infinite possibilities. For only when you give in to the luminosity of closed eyes, you let yourself be reimagined by the eye of the beholder – the camera.
Editor, Open Magazine
Rohit Chawla creates an illusion of the original painting while bringing his own unique touch. In this combination of pixels, paper, cloth, paint and diverse decorative elements. He creates the magic that turns an old work of art into a established fact, a contemporary modern day image.
Art Critic & Curator
Rohit’s fashion work, often experimental and mischievous, is always imbued with a streak of irreverence. His fashion photography invariably flirts with art and his creative work toys with fashion. He is a brilliant maverick who has mastered the art of surprise. Everytime you think you’ve seen it all, he re-invents himself to surprise you again.
Conde Nast India
On of the most significant artist of the 20th century, Frida has been an enduring love. We have loved her acid and her tender, her steel and her silk, her profound and her cruel. A french artist said it the best when he said the art if Frida is like a ribbon around a bomb. Rohit’s homage celebrates the creative force of Free Da!
Chief Creative Officer
Reminisce of Richard Avedon’s great photographs in the spreads of Harper’s Bazaar in the late sixties in America; Rohit structures compositions that simmer with raw and violent sensuality. He unveils moments that capture his muses in their deportment of fierce, unaffected pride. Like Avedon, he is interested in how portraiture captures the personality and soul of its subject. What more interesting subjects to represent than these modern-day ‘gypsie-pilgrims’ with their powerful and liberated vogue.
Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art
“It is the artist’s and photographer’s job to provoke ideas, to provoke aesthetic, ways of behaving, otherwise it’s not relevant. If you think your art should be relevant, then provoke is always related to discovery, and related to finding a new language and skill.”
Ai Weiwei in India Today
The men & women in the miniature series have immersed themselves in the ‘physique du role’, understanding the physical and mental sense of the roles they are playing. All of them appear to have, with great elan, slipped into the ‘king for a day’ feeling, surrounded by accessories and accoutrements that are intrinsic to the nobility they portray and enjoying the lavish costumes designed by Tarun Tahiliani.
Tasveer GallerySee more
Both photography and poetry rely upon capturing the transient, finding that elusive moment and fixing it in the imagination. Is it possible to twin these forms without one diluting the other? Reading the poems of Tishani Doshi’s Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, I felt compelled to respond to her words with images. To make, not mirrors, but companion pieces. When she writes of Syria, violence against women, the fragility of coastal life, there is an equal insistence upon the sacredness of the human body, the transformation of fear and desire. Each year we are reminded that we are living in the most dangerous of times. This is a photographic tribute to challenge those dangers, to embrace the fleeting moments of beauty, and to “find the poets.”
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In reconstructing Klimt, there was only part pleasure of accuracy but more substantially the pleasure of form, a form so poetic, so delicate that it is almost invisible. And how does one create geometry and perspectives that cannot normally be seen through the camera’s viewfinder? In this journey of swapping easels for pixels. The shared secrets of these ostensibly different portraits perhaps also lie in the decorative accidentals. And yet Klimt can never be dismissed as an artist of mere dazzle or surface beauty. “The Sequel” is my humble photographic tribute to an opulent artist of desire.
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In an age of multiplying media, Rohit for the last few years has been striving to go beyond the confines of traditional photography to create art through the marriage of unlikely – of the alive and the lifeless, of the relic and the real. It makes for compelling work – creative, challenging, disruptive of old, lazy ways of seeing. It pulls the viewer away from cliche to new forms and often an erotic frisson.
Tarun J TejpalSee more