[L to R] The Gift, 1921. Gelatin Silver print (Estate print) © Man Ray Trust ; Les Arums, c. 1930. Gelatin Silver print (Estate print) © Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ
Last week, TARQ opened its doors to an exhibition of photographs by Man Ray, realized in collaboration with Mondo Galeria (Madrid) and Matthieu Foss. Titled Views of the Spirit, the show brings the 20th century photographer’s work to India for the first time. The exhibition, first showcased in August 2014 at Mondo Galeria, Madrid, is a tantalising taste of Man Ray’s vast oeuvre. The photographs on display cut across the timeline of his prolific career while also providing an insight to his thematic engagements and photographic techniques. These include ‘solarization’ – a photographic process using overexposure of the film negative and ‘rayography' – a process that creates images without a camera by placing objects on a photosensitive paper exposed to light.
Les champs délicieux 5; rayograph, 1922. Gelatin Silver print (Estate print). 30x24 cm © Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ
Man Ray, while most certainly one of the central figures of the narratives of Dadaism and Surrealism, was also the most significant documenter of these extraordinary movements. His position at the helm of this creatively dynamic moment is made evident through the still lifes and portraits that find a place of prominence in this exhibition. The still lifes betray Man Ray’s unquestionable mastery over the Surrealist lexicon. The portraits capture a galaxy of 20th century zeitgeists including Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Andre Breton and Coco Chanel. Man Ray’s portraits of his assistant and muse – the scintillating Lee Miller, are a study in art direction as well as a testament to his particular eye for the female form.
Glass Tears, 1932. Gelatin Silver print (Estate print). 24 X 30 cm © Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ
While Man Ray never travelled to India himself, in the early 30s, he photographed personalities like Yeshwant Rao Holkar II and Sanyogita Devi of Indore extensively, in Cannes. This first exhibition of his photographs in the country allows us to imagine how he could have found inspiration here, the way he did from African cultures or the Far East.
This exhibition endeavours to bring forth the tour de force that was Man Ray. His images were born in the unique atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie that defined the avant-garde space of Paris and New York. May Ray’s vast body of work changed the course of photography in the 20th century, taking the genre from a documentary tool to an art form that brought alive the space between the real and fantastical.
Self-Portrait, 1943. Gelatin Silver print (Estate print). 30 X 24 cm © Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ
Views of the Spirit is on view until the 1st of July at TARQ, Mumbai.