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Photograph of Deepti Naval currently on show at Gallery Espace, are personal communion with the Ladakhi landscape.

LEADIING LADY in over 50 films writer-director poet and artist. Deepti Naval now shows her photographic perceptions at Gallery Espace in Delhi, “in Search of Another Sky”

Educated in Sacred Heart Convent, Amritsar, Deepti graduated from the City University of New York USA where she majored in Fine Arts, English and Psychology. She also studied Photography, Astronomy, and American Theatre.

Gentle sensitivity has always been the hallmark of Deepti’s portrayals, be it in films or poetry. It is the same sensitivity that characterizes her photo frames. Travelling through Ladakh these pictures were taken thisJanuary, the time when tourist influx is at the lowest. For that is what Deepti does a lot of the time – run far from the madding crowds to the untouched magnificence of nature, whenever time permits.

Shooting to all appearances with a wide angle lens, Deepti sweeps up the landscape into her picture frame, every part in clear focus, eliminating the human presence as far as possible. There is also an absence of relative scaling in some of the visuals, especially in the case of close-ups.

Her photographs are personal communions with the Ladakhi landscape, most of them taken in natural daylight. She sees poetry in each tree, stone and water, and responds to the spatial and formal relationships between the elements of the landscape. A dappled sunlight filtering through tree leaves, the trunks of tall hill-trees, the undulating river with its textured bed, each catch her camera eye.

Interestingly, Deepti’s penchant for single motifs is underlined through the show. Her frames seldom have multiple local points. Motif fashion. She composes with one tree, one mountain top, one little hut, one electric pole, the one blackened utensil on an extinguished fire, a single gate or a lone kali temple in an otherwise Buddhist dominated area. Her frames are characterized by the recognizably unwavering minimalism she has projected in her own personna over the year.

Not much play of light is visible in her frames expect in those of the Alchi Monastery, where the interiors determine the lights and the shadows.

Deepti has caught the remote desolating of the terra firma of Ladakh with the protective and vigilant eye of one who cares, and fears impending destruction. She in fact, is loathed to reveal the names of her subject villages, lest the builders descend upon it with gaping purses, knives sharpener to carve out every inch of the land. The unproductive terrain and unwelcome weather conditions of Ladakh are no guarantee for its safekeeping from the hands of “Progress and development”.

The pictures are so restfully bereft of hotels, motels, pubs, inns, tourist lodges, motor vehicle, golf courses, camel, elephant or yak rides and other such “tourist attractions” that one is actually afraid of its beautiful vulnerability. Deepti’s pictures are a homage to nature's own hum of life, every shrub and boulder replete with a quiet austere dignity, marginally touched by the human hand. To this extent and more can any art form be regarded as an instrument for change and conservation, credit goes to Deepti for capturing and handling down the moon-surface of the earth to posterity.