To acclaimed photographer Raghubir Singh, geography is more than the sum of the earth’s ever-shifting movements; it is one of the elemental forces that shape a culture’s personality and history. Defined by the Coromandel Coast, the Cauvery river, and the mountainous spine of the Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu is a land of rich traditions. Situated in South India, it was spared from the destruction of northern invaders, so that today Tamil Nadu is still home to numerous ancient temples, rising tall over miles and miles of paddy and palm. Yet the signs of modernization are evident as well in factories and power windmills. As R.K. Narayan writes in his preface to the book, “Raghubir Singh’s unique photographs of Tamil Nadu express the tradition of temples, the richness and variety of life, change as well as continuity in the environment and life in general.”
Although India is his homeland, Tamil Nadu was a place of discovery for Singh, where as he says, “what, at first, had seemed remote and distant, transformed itself into the intimacy of ordinary human lives.” It is this intimacy, bred of his devotion to his culture and aesthetic mastery, that makes this book as much a meditation on the nature of Singh’s photographic art as it is a long overdue portrait of South India.
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. (February 2, 1997)
About the Photographer
Born in Jaipur in 1942, Raghubir Singh was a self-taught photographer who worked in India and lived in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, where he passed away in 1999. In the 1960s he dropped out of college to become a professional photographer. In the early years of his career, Singh photographed for international magazines. However, his style rapidly departed from photojournalism. Starting with his first book Ganga (1974), Singh insisted on the use of colour at a time when colour photography was still marginal in art circles. His photographs document the socio-political and cultural changes undergoing Indian society in the key decades spanning the late 1960s to the late 1990s. While the city of Calcutta was one of his first inspirations, Singh focused on Bombay in the early 1990s at a time of radical economic and political transformation. Over the course of his prolific career Singh published 13 photo books and drew a unique portrait of his country that has few equivalents in scope and ambition.