“I’ve never seen anything die as beautifully as a leaf in autumn. I wanted to explore human relationships through leaves, and the life of a leaf through the human form,” says photographer Sunder Ramu, whose fine art photography exhibit, ‘The Last Dance of the Leaves’, is coming to Bengaluru on April 28 and 29.
Sunder held a preview of the series at The Hatworks Boulevard on April 21, where artists like Rukmini Vijayakumar, Manjunath Wali, and Trina and Gautam collaborated with Sunder to render their own interpretation of his art.
Having worked in advertising and fashion photography for over 25 years, Sunder says his move to fine art photography was a conscious choice. “I was tired of shooting celebrities to sell fairness creams and soft drinks. I felt that I wasn’t telling the right stories through my art. So, I wrote to all the 22 magazines I had been working with and told them I was done,” says Sunder. Apart from being a fashion photographer, Sunder has also been a dancer and a theatre actor. He has also acted in about eight Tamil films.
Sunder says the inspiration for the series came from a difficult phase in his life. “Fifteen years ago, I was going through a really dark period in my life and had nearly given up. I then decided to take a break and go backpacking across Europe, but I was still miserable. One day, as I sat on a bench in Montmartre looking at a windmill on a distant hill, I felt a cool breeze blowing. Suddenly, there was a splash of colour as leaves in yellow, orange, red and brown started to fall to the ground. When I saw their last dance before they fell to the ground, I felt that I was also in that place between the branch and the ground. And I realised that this experience could be beautiful too,” says Sunder.
He adds that he has been a ‘closet leaf photographer’ ever since. “I’ve been shooting leaves for nearly 15 years now. I was doing it for myself. I didn’t think of sharing it with others until recently,” he says.
The collection of photographs, which Sunder plans to showcase in more than 20 cities around the world, is titled ‘The Last Dance of the Leaves.’ “I want my art to be a celebration of love, life and death. I don’t want to simply put my pain on other people’s walls”, says Sunder.
The collection includes about 100 photographs of leaves, interspersed with about 20 nude photographs of women. “These days we are all bombarded by digital images through Instagram, Facebook and all kinds of social media. I feel like we need to pause and appreciate the beauty of the art of photography. Even in this digital age, I have chosen to use prints on canvas for my show,” says Sunder.
Sunder also claims that each exhibit will be uniquely tailored according to the space where the works are being displayed.
Sunder adds that he wants his exhibits to be open, democratic spaces.
He has also been collaborating with many artists to create work connected to the theme of his collection but in very different forms. At the Bengaluru preview, Rukmini Vijayakumar and her Raadha Kalpa dance company improvised a performance in reaction to Sunder’s works. Artist Manjunath Wali live painted on one of Sunder’s prints throughout the performances at the preview.
“This is a movement to create art that tells beautiful stories. I want to collaborate with different artists who tell these stories in their own unique way,” says Sunder.
Sunder’s works will be displayed at Sublime Galleria, UB City on April 28 and 29.