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May 09, 2016

Blending Boundaries With Ram Shergill’s Photographs

Text by Tejal Pandey. Photographs by Ram Shergill

Lensman Ram Shergill’s work reflects his many muses…

(Click on any image to view in larger gallery.)

For the London-born photographer, inspiration came quite early on in life and in more than one form. Ram Shergill’s initial memories are of a year spent at his family’s farmhouse in Punjab, of hot summer afternoons spent playing on rooftops that lent sweeping views of the fields beyond. In the UK, art documentaries on BBC2 opened up a new world where he first encountered images as powerful visuals, even while the audio often left him baffled with words like ‘composition’ or ‘Renaissance’. He recollects grabbing the glossy magazine that accompanied The Sunday Times, which his father brought home. This, for about six formative years, was his essential art education and introduction to the works of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Cecil Beaton and Horst P. Horst among others.

Although Shergill’s young mind was exposed to global art from the start, he feels a deep connection with Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil. Not just their last names, they also share a common love for the dreamlike quality and poetry in their work. Just as much as he believes in being someone who can adapt to and accept different cultures and traditions, he also feels a strong bond with India. Referring to it as ‘the land of his forefathers’ he finds its rich cultural heritage and yet undiscovered beauty inspiring and alluring. Old Bollywood films have also been a major influence on his sensibilities.

His work featured here reflects a mixed aesthetic. An ode to his favourite Italian and Dutch painters, it is what he calls ‘photo painting’. Armed with his Leica camera, he sets out to capture the depths created by ancient tapestries and the light on his ‘sans make-up’ subjects, adorned in original 14th-century garments. One could be from anywhere across the world and still be fascinated knowing that these were made at an old Parisian shop within a time frame of only three precious hours.

Ram Shergill on his aesthetics…

“If I go to a gallery I rarely like to look at the name of the artist, as I do not want the name to change my vision or perception of a painting or artwork. I want the image to resonate a great feeling in me, a great emotion that I can stare at for hours again and again.”
“I would say that being global is innate in all of us, we are all global citizens from our birth, as we all have come from global descent.
“…as an artist I feel that I am comfortable in certain parts of the world at different times of the year, for instance I love the warmth and freshness of India in December, and I also feel at home in the gardens of Kent in June and July.”
“I honestly believe that engaging the old with the new and looking at different art forms from different angles is what keeps all of us creatively engaged and interested.”

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