Ravi Agarwal: Nadar/Prakriti
- Susan Mansfield
- 13 August 2018
This article is from 2018.
Exhibition exploring the Scottish environment
Last summer, Indian artist Ravi Agarwal undertook a residency at Edinburgh Printmakers and, during his time in Scotland, travelled and researched in the Highlands. An environmental activist in India, Agarwal wanted to find out more about people's relationship to nature in Scotland, and how land is managed and conserved.
Used to working with lens-based media, Agarwal was new to printmaking and worked with expert printmakers in Edinburgh to turn his photographs into lithographs and copper etchings. He describes the process as one of 'slippage': made into a print, the image becomes less documentary, more an aesthetic object in its own right.
His lithographs are beautiful, intensifying the textures in a photograph: patterns made by moss on fine twigs, or by wind on the surface of water, or by the forms of trees in a forest. He has an eye for a good composition: a forest pool seen from above, an angular rock at the edge of water.
A series of copper etchings layer landscape photographs with images of people: crofters working on the land or hunters shooting a wolf (Agarwal is particularly interested in the large animals now extinct in Scotland as the tiger might one day be in India). A further room includes work made in India: several photographs and a rather beautiful film, 'The Sewage Pond's Memoir'.
Agarwal is interested in the similarities and differences between his home country and this one, and includes film interviews with people from both countries talking about nature, forestry and land ownership. While this is not a large body of work, it is an interesting one, not least because it gives us a chance to see our own country through the lens (literally) of an artist from the other side of the world.
Edinburgh Printmakers, until 20 Oct, free.