26th Feb. to 10th Apr. 2022 (All Days)

"The Nagas" Photographic Exhibition by Pablo Bartholomew

The Nagas' are a select series of photographs from Pablo Bartholomew's monumental visual records of the Naga people. His documentation of these various tribes spreading across the Northeast of India reveals anthropological narratives of traditions entrenched and in flux.

Intrigued by his father's personal accounts about the generosity of these ferocious head hunting tribes who helped him and other Burmese refugees to escape the advancing Japanese during World War II, Bartholomew repeatedly visited these harsh terrains to capture the changing lives of these unique people and deeply question the idea of the savage animist. These visual chronicles reveal Bartholomew both as a witness and participant.

The beauty of the people, their myths, traditions, their exquisite ornamentation of both their own bodies and their homes are all eminently manifested in these photographs. With their mastery of wood carving and metalwork, the Nagas have created some of the most potent ritualistic art, for everyday life and for ceremony. The sculpted doors, carved poles and panels are dense with symbolism – the carved mithun horns, tigers, pythons, human-heads, monkeys all refer to parts of their lived experiences. The feathered headgear, beadwork necklaces, body tattoos, vivid colours and designs of textiles woven on back-strap looms too are not just functional or arbitrary decoration but codes embedded in the life stages of individuals and tribes.

The show is complemented by original pieces of Naga furniture, carved doors, jewellery and artefacts from The Great Eastern Home's, Byculla, Mumbai's collection. The presentation of the material objects of the Naga peoples alongside the photographs brings home the nuanced sophistication of these distinctive tribes.

Bartholomew, an independent photographer based in New Delhi, India, first learnt photography from watching his father, Richard Bartholomew, an art critic and photographer, work. He has won three World Press Photo awards, has received the Padma Shree award and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Since 1979 he has held over 30 solo exhibitions at galleries, museums, biennales, and photo festivals. His work is part of prominent collections worldwide.