New Delhi: On the face of it, Delhi-based artist Atul Bhalla's work screams of his constant engagement with the rivers and nature, but at a deeper level each of these photographs share a personal journey and cryptic messages that the audience would be able to decode at an exhibition in the capital.
Selected works of Bhalla, comprising photographs and videos, are mounted at Vadehra Art Gallery till Jan 2, 2015 in an exhibition titled "Ya Ki Kuchh Aur" (Its Always About Something Else).
The show presents the artist's continuing dialogue with different environments while addressing issues surrounding water politics, wastage and consumption - and the human disengagement from nature.
"If you become too political in your work then it becomes linear. So one has to constantly bring in other things to sensitise the audience and establish a connection," Bhalla told IANS in an interview.
"I am not an environmental activist. But yes, my work is political and deals with the environment through which I raise issues that represent current situations. Yet...it won't be wrong to say that these works are many of my personal journeys," he
Bhalla's fascination with water began from his childhood days; it was in 1998 when he first entered a public swimming pool in west Delhi.
"The moment you jump in a large water body, you realise what you are made of. Your body is 80 percent water. You listen to the sound of the water.... you realise the medium is you. From here came the idea of belonging and I started engaging with rivers," said Bhalla.
From then onwards, he starting engaging with nature, especially water bodies.
The show documents works that have been created 2012 onwards, focusing specifically on three critical projects in three diverse locations: "Inundation" in Hamburg, "Deliverance" in New Delhi and "Contestation" in Johannesburg.
While "Inundation" captures the vastness and depth of water bodies, "Contestation" highlights racial discrimination in the country by seeking a relationship between land and nature - and using a white chair as a metaphor for the "whites".
While photography is a medium of expression for Bhalla, art, to him, is also a journey of re-looking and representing his own self.