Drawn repeatedly to the pristine and desolate parts of the world, Navin Sakhuja says he is always looking for the planet as it was before we gnawed away at it and changed it to what it looks like today.
Bringing photographs from his visits to the three remote, international locations — Arctic Circle, Iceland (2010), Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA (2010); and the Great Namib Desert, Namibia (2015), an online exhibition titled ‘Pristine’, by ophthalmologist and self-taught photographer Navin Sakhuja is on view from September 6-19 at the website of India International Center in New Delhi.
The photographs engage with the power and beauty of nature. Sakhuja in his art practice has been fascinated by and is drawn to the unknown, the unexplored, and the untouched, pristine and desolate parts of the planet.
“I have always been fascinated by the astonishing power and beauty of nature. It is this fascination with the unknown, the unexplored and the untouched which draws me repeatedly to these pristine and desolate parts of the planet. I am always looking for the planet as it was before we gnawed away at it and changed it to what it looks like today. I can only try and describe what I saw, although I know I cannot do justice to the amazing spectacles to which I was witness. This photo essay covers three different visits over the last 10 years, the only common thread being ‘Pristine’,” writes Sakhuja about the exhibition.
Contemplating on his visit to desert land in Namibia, he writes: “In all my life I have never seen anything as raw, as untamed, and as stunning. The Namib stretches for more than 2,000 km along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa, over undulating seas of sand, gravel plains and rocky mountain outcrops. The ‘roaring dunes’– so called because they create a perfect storm of sand and air, begetting thereby a rumble that is as loud as a low-flying plane–are also distinctive to the Namib.”
Similarly, the medical professional has this to say about his observations in Arizona and Iceland:
“Today, nearly 200 million years later, these grand canyons, also known as slot canyons because of the thin cracks in the canyon roof which allows in slivers of the blazing Arizona sunlight, are widely accepted to be among the most beautiful, natural architectural features in the world. Slot canyons, typically, are much deeper than they are wide. Some are so narrow that you can touch both walls with your arms outstretched. Others are much wider, like large rooms that suddenly change in shape and size as you twist and turn round the next corner. You have no idea what to expect beyond a few yards. Nature retains her equal ability to surprise and mesmerize.
“Most people would not catch a flight to Iceland in November, in the heart of a full-blown winter that does not seem to distinguish between night and day. And yet there is a certain kind of light, between the enormous storm systems–I was witness to one magnificent display of fire and ice–and large, dark masses of clouds that glower threateningly from the sky.”
Calling himself a “full-time eye surgeon, driven by a passion for photography”, Sakhuja says, “The truth is that while ophthalmology and photography are all about perceiving light in the best way possible, there are several ways of seeing. Over the years, as I have wielded the camera, I know I have imbued my photographs with my own core. The eye looks through the lens, of course, but it is the mind which impels the finger to trigger the shutter.”