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Kapil Das
11 Aurangzeb Road , 110011 New Delhi, India
September 17, 2011 - November 12, 2011

Pretty in Pink
by Himali Singh Soin

In 1946, after the world wars, Edith Piaf sings La Vie En Rose, calling out to her lover to give his heart and soul to her, so that her life will always be in "pink." In the late 90's, a relatively pink time in America that saw the rise of information and the settling modicum of the cold war, the song Pink by Aerosmith lifts the tiny and the everyday (lips, cherry, umbrella, crayon, flamingo) and the ascending octaves to imply that "everything is going to be alright."

Here is a photographer who recreates his own life in pink, but this life fragments and peels as it pinks. It is peaceful, loving, even cozy at times, but it is also cold, silent and technically grainy, overexposed or out of focus. Kapil Das photographs scenes from travels (lonesome diners and garbage heaps and endless oceans and trampled snow) and their in-between points when he returns home (kitchen stoves and a mother's embrace and television screens and diaries from the past).

This is a reckless collection: they would pass as random if their composition wasn't so deliberate. They are taken in varying formats from different cameras framed in diverse ways printed in numerous sizes and displayed in different layouts. The only pin that holds this collection of almost 50 photographs together is the paradoxical nonchalant consciousness behind them--a dark and humorous emotional detachment to stories that he has taken pains to tell.

Who are these other people? Why do we care about the collections and creations of these people who have only tangentially brushed our photographer's life? Perhaps because they do not represent the aspirational, that in India is a 'documentary' photographer's cliche. These rooms represent a cynical contentment that voyeuristically intrigue us. They seem to say that each of us live with loneliness and the only way to bear this is to accept it, for you who are surrounded by colorful things, people, love letters and believe you are not alone are in denial.

And so these alien prints are suddenly not desolate with solipsism or solitude, rather bustle with the activity of community, commitment and boisterous acceptance.

On a quiet hall of PhotoInk, tiny polaroids are framed in white and tell a story about nature, time and decay. These miniatures of vast territories without boundary are poetic, even evocative of a Robert Frostian paysage moralaise or psychological landscape. Here is a tale that has been told, but it is in this monotony of nature that the lone traveler grows weary, bleary and loses will.

It is then that the louder, pink, fantastical series offers respite. A heart shaped cake in a pink kitchen offer comforting, maternal soul food. The layout makes the eye jump, frenzied, to gather all the fragmented vignettes and glue them with an imagination and hope before they fall apart in reality and the retina. The cohesive element becomes the pinkness, not only in literal color but in the pitted feelings that they elicit.

The pinkness stays with you. Pink is this impressionistic boy being shifted by his environment. Pink is the memories, pink is a family that does not count the things that count. And like Kapil Das, Pink is the color of passion/'cause today it just goes with the fashion.

-- Himali Singh Soin

(All images courtesy of PhotoInk and the artist.)

Posted by Himali Singh Soin on 10/9/11 | tags: photography

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