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With love, from France

`French Urbanscapes' by Atul Sharma offers a different perspective on Paris



Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

PHOTOGRAPHY IS painting with light. When the light is just right, and one is `in' the moment, strikingly beautiful photographs just happen. Although many greats would disagree, and may rightly have reasons to do so - Atul Sharma candidly confesses that all his pictures are a case of serendipity.

"The light, composition and colours are not in one's control. All one does is just click," he says.Clearly, the honesty of such a photographer must reflect in his work. And Atul Sharma photographs with his heart. The unmistakable stamp of that quality is clear at the ongoing exhibition of his work, `French Urbanscapes' at the Alliance Francaise.

Shot over two years at various locales in France, the 17 pictures on display out of a lot of 2000, are interesting and surprising all at once. They are a distraction from the clichés that France evokes: Perfumes, wine, opera and middle-aged women in whites, and sombre-faced men in berets. In a France perceived by Atul's lens, what comes out explicitly is a young, colourful, designed and fashionable expression of the place. "It surprises me pleasantly how anyone can frame such beautiful pictures from just a wet pavement or a poster on the wall. I have lived in France so long, but my eye could never capture those details," comments Alliance Francaise (Hyderabad) director, Christophe Faucher, seemingly absorbed with nostalgia.

That a lot of technique has gone in for precision of the pieces is apparent as the artist in Atul manages to create a visual deception of three-dimension in most of the pictures. Like the photograph inside the tube, where three distinctly different subjects - a man in an advertisement, a passenger arriving and one waiting for the arrival of the train - integrate as one. Or the one, where a couple is lost marvelling at two trees blending seamlessly into a Renault-advertisement in Paris.

It is seen that a lot of importance is attached to the background in most of Atul's photographs showcasing France - which are mostly posters and wall paintings, possibly the handiwork of students of institutes that had been assigned the task to beautify certain parts of the city.

`Bike and Bulls' has been shot in southern France's Arles. The photo is of a man on a blue bike and looking at the silhouette of wild bulls running like crazy towards the deep blue sea, may be the Mediterranean. Pictorially, what strikes is the fine control of colours in the picture and the surreal quality of motion in the frame. The same feature gets underlined in a couple of other pieces too.

Among the remarkable photographs are - `Stripes and blue bag', `Stripes and Woman' that were shot in La Defense, `Balls and Hats' showing Rolland Garros in the background, `Millennium wheel and Horse' at Concorde that shows a coherent blend of the old and new Paris, and people walking on wet pavements in Boulevard Parerie.

It is enjoyable to view Paris from a different perspective, and Atul Sharma's work just seems to drive home the point naturally. The exhibition is on till June 16.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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