Rai unfolds his pictorial journey on human life at NGMA

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New Delhi, Mar 19 (UNI) Raghu Rai's iconic picture of the burial of a baby during the Bhopal gas tragedy is among the 200 pictures at the master photographer's retrospective that opened here last evening.

This picture that depicts the father, unable to bear the final parting, gently brushing away the earth from its face for a last look, went on to become a defining image for one of the world's worst industrial era tragedies. It was chosen for World Press Photo in 1984.

Inaugurating the exhibition titled 'The Journey of a Moment in Time: Raghu Rai' at the National Gallery of Modern Art(NGMA), Union Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni said, "Rai's works are so sensitive, interactive, intense, detailed and human that everyone will identify herself or himself with his works for generations." The exhibition showcases several images never before displayed, both from the older series and new works. It also displays a variety of compositions from 'Earthscapes', 'Nude' and 'Rocks'. The photographer also pays tribute to the greatest exponents of Indian classical music with their evocative portraits.

Also featured is Mother Teresa, who was a constant source of inspiration for Rai. The pictures range from 1970 till her death in 1997 and the state funeral.

NGMA Director Rajeev Lochan said Rai, who has traversed many paths as a photo-journalist, a portraiture artist and a traveller, had virtually touched upon every subject with a wide latitude of work.

"It is indeed a momentous occasion to be honouring a man whose exhibitions and retrospectives have been held the world over and more. So for me, a journey of time is not just a metaphor for his signature style but for those moments when his works have renewed for me what might have been lost in the timelessness of time," he added.

For the first two decades of his career Rai had worked exclusively in black and white. It was only in the 1980s that he started to explore colour. His colour pictures range from the deserts of Rajasthan to the Tibetans in exile in the mountains.

Rai has made some exceptional studies of communities, customs and general life in some of the dynamic Indian cities. His documentation of Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai vividly capture uncomfortable 'slices of life' from the socio-political atmosphere to the daily existence of people.

His works present human beings as they are, delving deeply into the inner psyche of the subject.

Speaking on the occasion, Rai said, "History can be rewritten but photo history cannot be rewritten." The exhibition-cum-sale will be on till April 15.

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