Her search for a new country to travel took her to Ukraine around the New Year 2022; she came back, in love with the architecture, the people, the landscape.
So, when the war broke out in Ukraine, it was almost instinctive for ace photographer Avantika Meattle to put up a photo exhibition to show the eastern European country through her lens.
Notwithstanding that in her earlier avatar, she had begun with cinematographic masterpieces such as Asoka, Umrao Jaan, Dostana and Saawariya in Mumbai before returning to Delhi, Meattle said, it is the travel photography that is close to her heart.
‘UNTOLD [GLIMPSES] – Memories of a Travelling Photographer’ showcases the vibrant streetscapes of Kyiv and Lviv as captured by Meattle during her 9-day visit.
Inaugurating the exhibition, Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor said, “She (Meattle) has humanised Ukraine for many of us who have not been there. She also has a very very interesting eye and as a result, she has really brought life to various images of Ukraine buildings, landscapes. That is absolutely fascinating to see Ukraine with a certain level of poignancy because we don’t know whether any of those buildings in these pictures are still standing.”
“And by visiting this exhibition, we all are expressing solidarity with the suffering victims of war in Ukraine,” Tharoor, who was accompanied by SpiceJet CMD, Ajay Singh for the inauguration, said.
Meattle, who has earlier dabbled into multiple genres and subjects, said, “Who knew, a few weeks down the line, this beautiful land would plunge into a turmoil? Television has shown us the devastation in Ukraine, so I wanted to show what the place was before the war. Not many have known and been to Ukraine.”
And that is what the exhibits tell, the tale, exactly as she has envisaged. The view from the ground of the Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra, the Eastern Orthodox Christian Monastery, situated on a 28-hectare grassy hill overlooking the Dnipro river, greets you right at the entrance followed immediately by hanging glass panels displaying the cluster of golden domed buildings. The exhibits also include matt-finished images of century-old buildings in stone, some in colour, some in B&W, bringing alive the damp streets around the New Year soon after snowfall.
In a small enclosure, are few lenticular photographs, actually making one feel as if one is walking along that street in Ukraine, below the arch, or in front of the leafless tree. Few photographs are in a box with eyeholes giving a feel as if one is looking out of the window.
The best part is the use of multiple surfaces. Curator Aakshat Sinha said: “There is deliberate use of multiple surfaces for printing the photographs on, including archival paper, metal, lens sheets for lenticular prints, fabric and sun board; each surface lending something to their nature adding to the experience of engaging with the exhibition.”
All proceeds of the exhibition will go to the UNHRC for relief efforts in Ukraine, it was told.
The exhibition will continue at the India Habitat Centre here till March 31.