Raghu Rai was awarded the ‘Padmashree’ in 1971, one of India’s highest civilian awards ever given to a photographer. Born in the small village of Jhhang, now part of Pakistan, he took up photography in 1965, and the following year joined "The Statesman" newspaper as its chief photographer. Impressed by an exhibit of his work in Paris in 1971, Henri Cartier-Bresson nominated Rai to join Magnum Photos in 1977.
Over a career spanning several decades, he has become one of the foremost chroniclers of the changing face of India. His images are famed for capturing both his country's brutality and its beauty, often within a single frame.
He has produced more than 18 books, including Raghu Rai’s Delhi, The Sikhs, Calcutta, Khajuraho, Taj Mahal, Tibet in Exile, India, and Mother Teresa. In 1992, his National Geographic cover story “Human Management of Wildlife in India” won him widespread critical acclaim for the piece. Besides winning many national and international awards, Rai has exhibited his works in London, Paris, New York, Hamburg, Prague, Tokyo, Zurich and Sydney. His photo essays have appeared in many of the world’s leading magazines and newspapers including "Time", "Life", "GEO", "The New York Times", "Sunday Times", "Newsweek", "The Independent," and the "New Yorker".
Raghu Rai on the Himalayan Insights:
In the ancient times the Rishis, Munis, saint and sages would go to the Himalayas to meditate and connect with the Supreme Energy and attain Nirvana. Since then photographers and travellers alike have journeyed into the grandeurs of the Himalayas for visual pleasures. What then, is the difference between a traveller and an explorer with a meditative pursuit?
The Himalayas are indisputably beautiful ….how one responds to it as a creative individual is the moot question. There are scores of pictures of the evening sun saturating the clouds and touching the snow capped Himalayas and these make for a pretty predictable cliché.
In these images, I seek the moments where the unseen and unknown are revealed. These moments of revelations come in whispers and nudges. In these moments, the unpredictability of nature has many mystical experiences to offer, which at times make you miss a heartbeat. The image you have captured must then acquire the rhythm and beat that you experience.
These moments of personal explorations into the heights and depths of the Himalayas are what one needs to connect with, so that these images of the Himalayas or any place else in the world are infused with its own soul and heartbeat, where the unseen and the unknown awaken a new awareness in you.
I hope that these images connect you to the Spirit of the Himalayas, helping you delve into the Insights that come from these heights.
The works exhibited at Gallery Gitanjali form part of a larger body of works and an ongoing project, to be published as a book and exhibited as a larger show in the near future.