Thursday, 20 December 2007

Tito Dalmau: Rajasthan

Tito Dalmau is a Spanish photographer and architect, whose book Rajasthan: Houses and Men presents a collection of photographs of this region's palaces and people. Tito takes us to the wondrous cities and towns of Rajasthan; the pink city of Jaipur, the blue city of Jodhpur, the holy town of Pushkar, the white city of Udaipur and the mirage-like city of Jaisalmer....passing though a multitude of villages and small towns.

His photographs are deeply saturated with color, some with many shadows...many influenced by his background as an architect, and others of people within the classic parameters of street photography.

Some of my favorite photographs -and there are many amongst the 140 or so in this lovingly produced book- are those that show off the faded texture of the architectural heritage in Rajasthan, an area I know well. Tito seems to rely only on natural light even when photographing interiors, such as in his beautiful photographs of the Bundi Palace. Another stellar example is his photograph of a temple of Jagdish (page 84) that doesn't shy away from showing the contrast of electrical cables chaotically crisscrossing its textured facade...the ancient marred by the necessities of modernity.

Further on, the red-ocher color of the adobe-like huts near Jaislamer jumps from the pages. This powerful color contrasts with the barren Thar desert...and that's what Rajasthan is known for...the dry barren colorless landscape and the exuberant colors of its architectural heritage and of its people.

In some of his photographs, Tito skillfully weaves the hard edges of architecture to the softness of people...my very favorite photograph of the entire book is on page 74, which is of a house's facade, painted in the turquoise/teal color used in Rajasthan, flanked by two parched trees. Two Rajasthani men peer at the photographer...unperturbed but wondering...one squatting on a red plastic chair, and the other laying on the typical Indian rope-bed. I've seen wonderful scenes like that all over Rajasthan.

The book's introductory text is written by Maka Abraham, and tells the story of each city and palace that Tito Dalmau photographed. I particularly liked this sentence in her text:

There are no half tones in the Thar Desert, where everything the eye rests upon either explodes with life or else constitutes the very image of emptiness; where everything that is not endless wastes of sand, or broken limestone and dry, dusty shrubs, is an astounding mixture of breathtaking colours".

The book is published by Contrasto in a lovely linen cover, and printed in Spain.