NEW DELHI: A photographic exhibition of nudes was highly appreciated by art lovers here, especially women, indicating that many more people were now comfortable accepting nudes on their picture frames.
A five-day display of 45 nude studies titled "Skin", which wrapped up in the capital Monday, brought out connoisseurs mature enough to appreciate the natural artistry of the human body and photographer Sanjib Sen's creative vision to take it beyond the gross display of female vitals.
The show, set to travel to Kolkata, was curated by art critic and auction analyst Uma Nair.
The nudes, captured in various poses and their shapes distorted to give the frames the look of an artist's canvas, drew responses ranging from surprise and awe to sheer ecstasy, mostly from women, who made up bulk of the viewers and buyers.
Delhi-based photographer Sumiko Nanda, who found the design of the invitation card "very striking", said it set her thinking.
"This show had to be different because human forms are rarely treated with such perspective. I loved the play of light and shade," said the photographer, who spent almost an hour browsing.
"I think we are gradually coming to accept nude art. It is because people, the art lovers, are now aware of the trends in the West and are developing a new outlook," she said.
Artist Nirmala Singh was moved to poetry at the exhibition. She compared the frames to "raindrops on barren stones" and felt as if the "flesh was singing a song of its own".
Archana Ravi, an employee of McCann Erickson, described the monochrome frames as "the misty shadows of clay".
"It is audacity to connect to something that I know nothing about," the executive said in appreciation of the work.
The silver print resin-coated frames were mostly in black and white, monochrome shades of russet (reddish brown) and its paler ochre version.
In some of the compositions, Sen played around with the torsos and trunks of women so that they appeared like disjointed entities - floating in space.
Arms, breasts, necks and limbs lay scattered about on the 16 X 16 inch and 42 X 54 inch frames like shards of flesh illuminated by an inner light against inky backgrounds.
The monochrome photographs in colour misted the standing nudes to focus on a pair of dancing hands or a curved swathe of the buttocks; and at times zoomed in to hint a rounded mound of flesh somewhere in the region of the belly and breasts.
The end result was slightly magical - as if the nymph-like women, who seemed trapped in the realms of imagination, were struggling to become real.
Some of the frames, in which the bare bodies were shot from a distance in deep black shadows, resembled sculpted forms in metals because of their precision, angular forms and geometric compositions.
According to Nair, critics in the West, where nude studies form a separate genre, suggest that there is no right way to present the human body.
The language of the nude is one that steps into a broad spectrum of sorts, Nair said. It not only has the propensity to change according to subjects and tones, but also expresses essence of emotions that stems from rage, love, disgust, control, longing and abandon.
Sen said his experiments with nudes started six years ago.
"By profession, I am an advertising photographer shooting industry and products. This in a way was a deviation from my skills and a return to my college days of line drawing and figure studies," the Delhi College of Art graduate said.
The inspiration, as the photographer admitted, was the ancient Hindu faith of 'tantra' and his wife.
"Some of the frames bear striking resemblance to Kamakshi, the goddess at the Kamakhya shrine in Assam which I often visit," said the lensman, who studies tantric literature in his leisure moments.
"But this show could not have happened without the help of my wife, who prodded me to put together the photographs for an exhibition," Sanjib said.
The photographer is now already preparing for another nude photography exhibition in Delhi.