Looking up at the giganticness and antiquities of old Calcutta’s architecture, one can feel the presence of uncountable mysteries buried inside them never to be unraveled again.
Stepping into one such zamindari mansion in the city that recently hosted an exhibition of photographs reminding the eternity of great architecture instantly heightens the mood of nostalgia. Displayed against the dilapidated brick walls beyond rows of majestic pillars, the images look even more meaningful.
The exhibition named Viva, an initiative by Calcutta Heritage Collective, displayed over 35 photographs by Kounteya Sinha from across the world and Kolkata in journeys which have taken years.
They reveal the marvels created by human hand. The show was inaugurated by Keshari Nath Tripathi, governor, West Bengal and the ambassadors of Calcutta Heritage Collective Cause, namely, Usha Uthup, Bickram Ghosh and Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya and other esteemed guests.
A photograph of the grand square of Madrid, Spain, with mythological images painted in the spaces between rows of antique blind windows, draws attention. The biblical images are so lively that it adds a bustling quality even to the grey and desolate structure with closed windows.
There was in display, the photograph of another refined piece of architecture from Athens. Though battered and left uneven with visible cracks, it still stands strong with the support of dignified roman figures as pillars. Their expressions speak of a past that goes beyond the pages of history.
A wooden panelled screen of stained glass with images inspired from nature and royalty, at the Badi Kothi of Murshidabad, West Bengal, is more than a photograph. Its quality of chiaroscuro emanates a mystery that blends with the ambience of the exhibition. Thus managing to fix the viewer’s gaze long enough to be lost into an illusion of reality.
The photograph of the American Cemetery, France, leads the eyes beyond rows of crosses that disappear into the realms of an unknown darkness. The black and white medium adds to its haunting beauty. The light and shadow in the picture plays in such a way as if each cross is outlined with a halo. It looks divine.
The one from Valletta, Malta, captures a side close-up of a number of balcony windows in neon shades of red and blue. They are supported by structures in intricate detailing of artistic patterns. The windows, almost clustered together, that open to tiny balconies with railings in cast iron, are a riot of colours, really vibrant to look at.
Another black and white photograph captures a moment of two lovers lost into each other on a lazy afternoon before a bridge in Budapest. With the river flowing by and the cool shadow from the leaves of a tree below which the lovers sat, the image has a serene appeal to it.
“Houses are actually tangible museums of memories. Architecture, to me, is more than just brick and mortar. It is a story that speaks of everything from history and culture to language and people,” said Sinha.