March 28, 2023


Unique & Classy

Dry flowers and skulls: The eccentric workspace of photographer Arka Patra

5 min read

Skillfully, Arka Patra is a photographer. He is dependent in West Bengal’s Chandannagar, the township that was formerly a French colonial outpost. The 31-calendar year-aged lensman is now generating a identify in the earth of manner images. His function has been utilised in jewelry ads, on reserve addresses and for trend catalogues he has been revealed on Homegrown and Curry Discussions in 2020, he was a single of 10 winners of the FDCI Wall Of Frames contest. At the moment, he divides his time in between individual tasks and expert shoots, commuting concerning Kolkata and his hometown.

But there is so much a lot more to him than fulfills the eye.

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For a single, the photographer is also a sculptor and a painter – a real multifaceted artist. He frequently makes his own props – as an aside, he tells a story about how for 1 shoot, he seriously wanted a taxidermized fowl but could not uncover any, so he appeared up on line tutorials and built 1 himself with the corpse of a friend’s bird. For a further, he refuses to enable his work be pigeonholed by own id, preferring to enable his images do the chatting.

Arka’s pics are gentle and still. In them, he plays with styles, silhouettes, objects and colours, imbuing the aspects with symbolic indicating. Gender and sexuality are the predominant themes in most of his personal work. He believes placing his personal exclusive stamp even in industrial tasks, with aesthetics of queerness and a like of Early Modern-era artwork and sculpture becoming his primary influences.

“When I 1st begun working, I wondered how I could provide in these visuals I liked into the fluid room of gender, specifically masculinity,” he states.

Edited excepts from a longer discussion with Lounge.

Describe your latest workspace to us.

It’s a massive spare area in my dwelling. I started out utilizing it about 7 or 8 yrs back. It is stuffed with all my function equipment – my digital camera, laptop, lights, and material and paper for backdrops are all below. But there is also gear for portray, spare clay and shola for sculptures and crafts, hoops and applications for embroidery. And then there are the more eccentric items I use as props – dry bouquets, masks, feathers, and even skulls! This is wherever all my innovative pursuits happen.

Has it usually been this way? Or has it developed about the years?

It surely was not as cluttered 5 many years back again! There’s a honest volume of what I would call junk – I’m a little bit of a hoarder. There are packing containers and cartons just about everywhere. The place-organisation has modified fairly, and whilst my paintings are hanging almost everywhere, I would not definitely phone the house embellished. But it is not just practical, it’s purposeful – like a workshop.

How would you determine your day by day marriage with this place?

I strongly imagine that an artist wants their individual area. I use this home for all my individual inventive tasks, from pictures to painting to sculpture, and to prep for shoots. All the things I treasure is listed here, and I like to be surrounded by these issues. I even keep in this place at night often. When I wander into it, it instantly feels like house.

Tell us about some of the eureka times you have experienced and major performs that you have completed from here.

I’m a rather spontaneous particular person, so though I approach every little thing, there’s some improvisation in just about every shoot. After I made use of a plate that I broke accidentally in the course of the shoot as a prop, and the shots were being awesome! As for big performs finished right here, just one of my favourites are the portraits of I took of styles to take a look at how softness can be an vital aspect of masculinity.

If you have been to trade in this put for one more, what would it be?

I would like to have a warehouse! It will will need to be even bigger than this home, with a great deal of mild, and nearer to Kolkata. But I like exactly where I reside and function proper now – it is ideal following to the river, with the ghat is only a handful of paces absent, and my property is surrounded by aged colonial-period structures, crafted in the French model. There is so a great deal peace and aged-earth allure.

What’s the 1 detail that has often been at your workspace more than the several years. Why?

It’s much less of a thing and far more of a philosophy that I establish with – the contrasting interplay of existence and dying, the dichotomy of the thought of lots and the thought of dying. It is one thing that the Dutch masters have been obsessed with, also, and you can see it affect in my get the job done. That is why I have so quite a few skulls in my perform and in my workspace, but also flowers and fruits. The place represents the religious truth of the matter that I have inside of myself.

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Is there a person graphic that always moves and evokes you?

It is most likely the graphic of Saraswati Ma. Every single 12 months, we hold a puja in our household, and I sculpt the idol myself, such as the sholar shaaj – the ornaments manufactured of the pith or shola plant. I can gaze forever at her. She is my inspiration, as the Hindu deity who is the patron of arts, the bhagawati, resource of all creation and beauty. I never feel I’m able of doing everything if there isn’t her will in it.

A memory of one of your earliest images — how did it occur to be, where by did you shoot it? 

1 of my earliest initiatives was named ‘Crimson Lust’ and it is however a person of my favourites. It was focused on the plan of that violence is a section of mother nature, represented by way of the colour red. The illustrations or photos had a great deal of pagan symbolism. A further favorite is called ‘Do not go to the backyard garden of bouquets.’ It’s dependent on a poem by Kabir about like. In the photos, I interpreted it as a result of the lens of queerness.

Rushati Mukherjee is a author based in Kolkata.

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