Caution: Some of these tight skins house regular, everyday stuff. Don’t trust your eyes. You need to stop, breathe and take a closer look!
It started out as an idea to present a series of pictures on the textures of food, but moved on to becoming a lavish spread of artistic photographs that pay tribute to food, drink, colour and texture.
The exhibition is a special one as it is a first for Gallery Caperberry, and a first solo for photographer Sudeep Gurtu. The idea seems to have emerged when both wanted to do something to recognise the amazing tastes and textures of food. And so, while it might have taken Sudeep Gurtu twenty-five years to take his camera more seriously than his career in interior designing, it took him just a month to come up with his breathtaking series on food and drink.
The series simply called, Take A Closer Look, features a total of 20 pictures printed on textured fine art paper. Seven of these are pictures of bottles and are displayed in the lounge area of Caperberry, and the rest are food ingredients – spices, veggies and fruit – displayed on the walls of the restaurant area.
A look around at the pictures, and you feel that Gurtu fooled around with the camera for quite a while before suddenly seeing potential for that super shot, then he froze the frame and worked on it till that desired look was achieved. Talk to him and it’s not much different. “I didn’t have a clear idea of what the shot should look like beforehand but played around, moved things and suddenly would get the feel I liked. The morel was the first shot I did and it gave direction to the rest of the shoot,” he says.
The bar and lounge features a series of sensual bottle scapes in vibrant blues, greens and oranges. Gurtu is the first to point out that though the pictures have a feel of being a painting – so easily doable on Photoshop – they’re not. Everything that you see is part of the element itself. None of the pictures have props – the colours, in this case, come from the drink bottles themselves. The levels of bottles were altered to let the interesting shapes mingle and the results are quite pleasing.
Dine at the restaurant, and you’ll look at pictures featuring leeks, chillies, mushrooms and some twists on bell peppers and onions that will have you a bit embarrassed. Embarrassed, because for one, you won’t be able to tell what it is, and embarrassed once more because of what you thought it looked like! Fortunately, the photo captions will assure you that you weren’t the first to think of it. In this context, the picture of the bell pepper must be mentioned – the shiny tight yellow skin contrasts comfortably with the blurry grey back ground to give you new interest in this common veggie. The picture (see right) is called ‘bell bottom’. I told you it wasn’t just you!
Like it happened with many other veggies, Gurtu says that the concept of this picture was different to what he initially had planned for the shot. The first idea was to have a transverse section of the bell shot (much like the chillies that finally made it to the series) but Gurtu says it ended up looking pretty dreadful – “like an endoscopy”! Some veggies like the morel needed to be presented in not as much detail (the closer you go, the less appealing morels get). The treatment was then changed to presenting each individually as this giant, mystical tree which worked magically.
The shots are appealing, for their colours are pure, backdrops are made from the subject alone and in this sense, the pictures are very organic. Some subjects, like the chillies, were just placed on wood and shot to stunning effect. Gurtu says this series was fun to work on after all it was his favourite subject… food! It was also liberating for him to do a creative job rather than a “perfect, proper job” that would have been the brief if he was doing an ad shoot. “It was nice that I could use food with imperfections and make them look good,” he says pointing to the ravishing red and green chilly picture with one missing a part of the stalk.
Many foods didn’t make it to the series simply because they didn’t fit in with the rest, or looked too picture perfect. Some like the shots of strawberry and kiwi seemed clichéd and yet others needed more experimentation and have been shelved for a later show. I’ve suggested Gurtu make it a ‘hot summer fruit series’. That way, the fruity curves can simply slide in with the hot, naughty theme.
This exhibition is just one in a number of bi-monthly food-related photo exhibitions that will be hosted here. The hosts, Chef Abhjit Saha and director, Shruti Shibulal are clear that they will feature works that are in tune with their concept of food and those that share their sensibilities.
Till then, Take A Closer Look is on view at Gallery Caperberry. Only three prints of each picture are available for purchase. If you liked reading this, you’ll be rushing there for sure. Get your fresh veggies here, today!
‘Take a Closer Look’ runs through the second week of Aug’09; for details, contact Sudeep Gurtu at email@example.com, or Gallery Caperberry at 2559 4567.
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