|T h e Q u i l l I n F o c u s|
When studying photographs in any setting--whether in a walk-in gallery, in print, or on the internet, what I have come to appreciate is its timeless quality, originality, perspective and knowledge of one's subjects, as well as, composition.
Subir Chatterjee's B&W Photographs on Pixiport's site, http://www.pixiport.com/Gallery-C20.htm, are quiet, reflective pieces that have a calming effect. There is strength to be gained from Chatterjee's compositions. His work literally has a Zen quality to it. It is simple, understated but elegant.
To define elegance is to understand how the eye perceives objects in a setting. A cluttered, or busy composition fatigues the eyes and often indicates poor use of white space. On the other hand, I think of photographs that can be static, empty or lacking in atmosphere, mood and, or organization. While color can often make up for lack of balance not so with B&W photographs--flaws are much more apparent and difficult to cover up. Therefore, while I may be more critical towards black and white photography, my appreciation for its craft is far greater.
What makes Chatterjee's work unique is how cleanly he presents his subjects. When I say, "clean" I believe I am thinking in terms of focus. The center of focus for most of his pieces is his stark use of black and white to create extremes, or contrast. His photos hardly use any middle values, such as grays, shadows and softened lighting, with perhaps the exception of his blurred compositions (GC20-07, GC20-10 and GC20-11).
Take for example, his "chair" series, GC20-01, GC20-12 and GC20-15, in which fruit has been carefully placed in the seat of a chair in the middle of a room. Note the sharp whites and blacks. What might be easily dismissed as "still life" these photos I thought were some of the more interesting compositions. The lighting in the shape of a V leads the eye to the center of the chair. Then, notice how the angle of each chair expands outwards so that you have movement created by "contraction" and "expansion" similar to the shape of an hourglass.
Two others that captured my interest were GC20-02 and GC20-09, respectively. In GC20-02, while I was not quite sure what I was seeing, the lines and shapes created by the black and whites intrigued me. There are three major white areas that invite the viewer to contemplate entrances and exits into this GC20-02. In GC20-09, the movement was sensuous offered by the reflection, curves and lines.
GE1-05 is a terrific atmospheric capture. Imbued with an empty feel to it, this particular photo disturbed me the most. I was curious about the direction of its lighting. I assumed the lighting came from the right hand side, but the reflected light on the trunk of the car appears to have come from a different direction or source. Though a trivial matter, or a mistake on my part the photo held my interest as a retrospective piece from a timeless by-gone period somewhat abandoned by grace.
A hauntingly peaceful photo, GC20-08 was the most amazing composition. There is a feeling of "the moment" that is very present in this photo. The composition alone is a beauty to behold. The line of horizon cuts the photo into two thirds but does not lead the eye astray. The very act of capturing movement--his subjects walking in the distance; the shade of an umbrella in the foreground; or, the sack lying on the ground speaks of vulnerability, security and protection all in one breath.
Overall, without question, I found Chatterjee's work insightful, unafraid to get close to his subjects while maintaining objectivity. There is a maturity to his vision that is neither striving for effect or contrived. I have to admit that I enjoyed reviewing his work immensely.