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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rohit Chawla’s Wanderlust portfolio is one of the most remarkable to come out of the travels of any photographer in India since Cartier-Bresson was here with his Leica in the late 1940’s.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The mobility of Rohit Chawla’s art constantly blurs boundaries and pushes us to recaliberate our aesthetic landscape.
Cigars, distressed walls, Spanish colonial architecture and classic cars in Havana, vintage is a way of life, says photographer and Cubaphile Rohit Chawla.
“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.”
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.
Rohit captures his subjects with shameless forthrightness, allowing each of these Naga Sadhus to hold you captive with their piercing gaze…seconds before they turn away and walk the road less travelled.
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.
The world of fashion and art is merging and Rohit Chawla is positioning himself on the cusp of this trend.
In the time l’ve known Rohit (for over two decades), he has never followed the herd. his ideas were, almost always, ahead of their time and provoked you into thinking. 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. Rohit is a brilliant maverick who has mastered the art of surprises. Every time you think you’ve seen it
all, he re-invents himself and surprises you again. May his tribe multiply.
Rohit Chawla has cut his teeth in the world of fashion photography and advertising – the former is often accused of unwearable artifice and the latter is all about consumption. It is only befitting that his images here mock the familiar dialectics of art and utility, from and function. These post-industrial women extend themseves to the mechanical and the natural with ease in his images.
Food is already treadted as art at institutions such as Le Cirque and Megu. Now, Rohit Chawla adds another layer of style with his talented photography. A worthy tribute.
Rohit Chawla’s visual essays on fashion are a celebration as well as subversion. The international kitsch in geometry that sets his frames apart draws its energy from the relentless combat between form and fantasy. his lens limns shifting moods of nature as a backdrop to figures camouflaged in varying patterns of eroticism. Rohit’s enchantresses, no matter whether they are earth goddesses or waifs with a piercing metallic attitude, exude the most elemental sexuality and push the frontiers of fashion photography.
Rohit Chawla’s images of The Leela cuisine go beyond conventional food photography and awaken the sixth sense as well creating an art form that’s not just visually enticing, but appetising as well.
Gastronomy and photography is a great combination. The outstanding visuals in this unique book bring food to life as never before, and the tome is a testament to the great tradition and legacy of The Leela Group, where cuisine and good living have always been a fine art.
No one quite rivals Rohit Chawla’s graphic sense in fashion and portraiture, where model and landscape fuse into a magical, futuristic exotic form. From Namibia to New Zealand, Rohit pushes his artistic vision in the quest of his dreamscapesl.
What one sees in the book is a delightful and incandescent presentation of food, giving visual form to the experience of flavor and aroma; food is photographed with the very life-force of light coming throug, forging a portic relationship between the themes of the astral and that of nourishment.
Rohit in his avatar of a Art-Photographer has been poignantly recreating the works of the masters-rendering the classical in a contemporary style. With his new series Wearable Art, Rohit yet again unleashes his formidable creative energy-this time art becomes an extension of the human body.
With over a 15 year association with Rohit, one has seen his mind jump with curious enquiry towards art in its various forms, constantly battling norms, cliques and attempted efforts to “be different”. In fighting this battle he has created a niche for himself as an artist who questions, defies and breaks new ground drawing inspiration from many masters including nature…
Rohit Chawla has straddled the worlds of the arts with an ingenuity that has now become legion. Every time, he astounds to inspire, creates to awe and delivers to level that one never imagines. In his latest works, Chawla shows an impressive insight into a world that has been overwhelmed by pace and agility but still craves for the calmness of art. A form that Chawla stuns us with, yet again. As only he can.
Aerospace, oceanspace, landscape-no other of the 10 million species on planet earth lays claims to all this as the humans do. But the measures once borrowed from the others now lie overtaken-horsepower for the land speed, the wingspans of albatrosses now minisculed by jets, or the whale made liliput against a submarine.
Rohit Chawla’s newest photographic passion has taken him to New Zealand, where our planet’s beauty is most ‘wearable’. Models as clotheshorses march out to the wide outdoors to become veritable peacocks with fashion plumes, or slip into seconds skins with ease and become anything from fishtail palm fringes to fins of rare fish. Graphics gets a more cosmic dimension as they leap from the drawing boards of yore. Beyond the windows of computers, Chawla shuts the photoshop and leaps into world of staged clicks to create images more
real than simply being virtual.
I have been watching Rohit’s work over the past 18 years of our association. Fashion has always been his forte, coupled with sensibility of the arts, his images always have strong graphics compositions which make them stand apart from the rest. Rohit took a sabbatical from the obvious glare of the fashion world and kept himself busy with his mega commercial campaigns only to have all of us sit back and gape at the wonder of his “Wanderlust Series”, two year ago, which according to me are masterpieces that will stand the test of time.
But conventional fashion not withstanding, his series on old masters, Ravi verma, followed by Gustav klimts Portraits, have been a labour of love for a man whose passion is surely art and not commercials or advertising.
His “Wearable Art Series” is again a play of what Rohit Chawla is essentially all about….tongue and cheek sarcasm towards fashion since his true calling is nature, landscapes and graphics in all their glory. he also manages to capture the contemporary fashion sensibility with an indian sensitivity that few poscess.
Rohit’s present body of work is almost akin to tribute to Alexander McQueen with all its madness and pure genius.
Talent has one blessing and one curse: restlessness. I have always found Rohit, restless. Restless to get to the next artistic high. To climb the next mountain. Rohit dreams big and i suspect in technicolour. I have known him for decades as a fine photographer. And for the past few years as an artist with burn. His latest show has an energetic calm to it. It is bold, It is sensational, it is sinfully staged. It is everything Rohit isn’t.
With the wearable art portfolio, Rohit deftly casts the lush Kiwi landscape and a bizarre haute couture line to transport his viewer to a magical play field. His pictures pack a rich lexicon which fuse Bosch’s vision, Tolkien’s characters and Carroll’s symbolism, set against postcard perfect exotica: all faculties working concurrently to create a series of brilliantly captured, striking visuals.
I love the imagination in Rohit’s work, there is a lovely amalgamation of art, fashion and photography in every single work. Each photograph appeals to a different dimension and the unexpected twists in what you are going to see next adds to the viewing pleasure.
These pictures don’t merely capture portraiture, but render a narrative, tellingly offering a glance in to the lives of the protagonists of his frames; and this is wherein lies Rohit’s ultimate achievement: of not merely presenting the apparent frugal simplicity of the Rabari tribe, but in capturing their underlying power, raw & primal.
Rohit is a storyteller and his camera is a relentless stylus that defies the limits of narrative photography. These are intimate portraits of ethnicity as costume drama, exuding the elemental beauty of life.
What is triumph. These are remarkable powerful images of the proud Rabari community in Rohit Chawla’s photohgraphic exhibition ‘Wanderlust’ with his sensitive but stark minimalist style of portraiture he only enhances the fierce dignity of this ancient nomadic tribe with their decorative and unique traditional dress. This collection must surely be a stunning and invaluable record of a fast disappearing India and should be valued as such along with its enduring artistic merit.
Rohit Chawla’s photographs fix a moment in time, as a galaxy of great writers search reflectively, through a playful frame, as through in quest of a story. These intense and provocative author portraits look deep into the narratives of the narrators.
Photographing writers is like untravelling a palimpsest of paradoxes. But in front of the camera, it is the playfulness of the moment that breaks the thinnest curtain of tentativeness between the writer and the photographer and which makes these portraits a pause in eternity.
Our authors are the real heros of our festival and ace photographer Rohit chawla has spend 10 years capturing some of the most incredible intimate portraits of our authors few of which are lovingly reproduced here as a prelude to a forthcoming book.