Visual Artist Arka Patra Is Bringing Out The Delicate Side Of The Male Body
- IWB Post
- July 16, 2019
If you closely follow where the global artistic movement is heading , you’d realise that a gender revolution is upon us.
Lately, art is being employed as an effective medium to deconstruct gender and explore its hitherto unexplored and unrecognised possibilities. At the centre of this revolution lies the artist, the harbinger and curator of the change.
Visual artist and fashion photographer, Arka Patra is one such artist, who has been spinning his aesthetic wand to create art which is both revolution and magic.
A painter turned photographer, 27-year-old Arka exploits the possibilities of photography as an artistic medium, thus curating art that doesn’t compromise on expression. His is the art that soothes yet aggravates the deepest recesses of your psyche, owing to the organic representation and the subjects approached.
Here are excerpts from a conversation that I had with Arka:
Lets begin with your aesthetic ideology. How do you approach photography as an art?
My aesthetic is heavily influenced by classical art, both Indian and European. At the same time, I feel art should be relevant to its own time, and my intention is to find a balance between the past and the contemporary. As an artist, I create images, and photography is a medium for me. In fact, I approach my subjects as paintings but instead of painting them, I take pictures.
Which one has been your favorite series from the personal projects that you have done so far?
The series that’s closest to my heart is ‘Do not go to the garden of flowers’. It is based on a poem by Kabir. The series is my interpretation of the poem and it proposes a discussion regarding the difficult topic of religious fundamentalism, violence, and love.
As an artist in India, does freelancing make you financially independent enough to carry on with the same?
It is not difficult if you can do whatever comes your way as a photographer. However, I intend to do only projects that have some relevance to my aesthetics and my voice as an artist. It was more difficult when I was starting out, but over the years I have tried to develop a style and present it to people, so if they like it they can hire me. It is a balancing act, but you gotta do what you have to.
How do you find brands that are congruent with your aesthetic ideas? When working with a brand, is it you who decides the creative theme or the brands?
They find me. I mostly work with designers who have a certain story or theme for the collection. I wish not to override that. However, we sit down and discuss how we can develop it into a visual narrative. It is a collaborative process. I exercise full freedom while I work on my personal projects.
What is your take on nudity as an artist?
Since my influences are deeply imbedded in classical art, nudity is part of my visual language. It is said that the human body is the most beautiful creation of God, because He created man in his own image. It is blasphemous not to see the human body as an object of beauty and grace.
When working with nude models, how do you make them feel comfortable in front of the camera?
I don’t treat my models any differently if they are naked. Nudity is natural, to me and to the people I work with. I try to keep the minimum number of people during shoots, but that I do for any shoots. I understand there is a sense of vulnerability at play, while in front of the camera, but that is there with or without clothes.
How do you approach body as an object of sexuality and desire?
I think vulgarity is an easy slide when we talk about desire and sexuality. I try to avoid vulgarity. Also, images have to come from a place of honesty and conviction in what you want to say. It always shows and it is that honesty, I hope people relate to.
Speaking of sexuality and desire, are there any emotional issues that you are approaching through photography?
Sexuality and desire are emotional issues. However, I mostly talk about gender in my images. That is the underlying theme in most of my pictures. We are so used to seeing women as delicate and vulnerable. I try to do similar portrayals but on a man’s body.
Has you art ever been banned or censored in India?
Some of the images from ‘Do not go to the garden of flowers’ were avoided when the series was published in the Curry magazine. A year later, similar incident happened when the series was exhibited at the Egaro photo festival. I do understand the reluctance and risks of publishing certain images in the present environment, but as artists, we can only try and push as much as we can.
How are you defying societal taboos through photography?
My primary intention is not to defy societal taboos. Through my images, I simply want to say what I believe in, and at times it is only to start a conversation regarding issues we must talk about and discuss openly and honestly as a society. The society, as I see it, is layered and complex and we all tend to live in our own bubbles, therefore conflict is only natural. Conversations must happen to avoid conflict. Conversations must happen for us to understand the other and where they are coming from – and the other must do the same.
Photo courtesy: Arka Patra