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In these Raja Ravi Varma portraits Army wives are the muses

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When you take a look at Garima Dixit’s work, you uncover her innate skill to show images into mini-dramas.

Whimsical, aesthetic and powered by the play of sunshine, Garima’s newest challenge of recreating famend colonial artist Raja Ravi Varma’s works blurs the line between portraiture and portray, with somewhat assist from the Army fraternity she belongs to.

Garima, 38, just lately relocated to Pune from Udhampur, a cantonment city in Jammu and Kashmir. In the years she adopted the drum, transferring throughout the nation together with her Army officer-husband, Garima found the world by way of the lens of her Canon DSLR after she turned a mom.

Photographer Garima Dixit

Photographer Garima Dixit  

“I had post-partum blues and entire months of my daughter growing up went by in a haze. That was when I picked up the camera to document her growth. Her first birthday cake smash image was shared on a mother’s group and I began to get offers to photograph children. Photography saved me,” says Garima over telephone.

Garima laughs when she says that dwelling in a city that not many individuals can level on a map didn’t deter work affords from pouring in. “People travelled from Jammu to get their children photographed. By the time I left Udhampur I had taken pictures of nearly every child in the cantonment. I was learning so much and initially I did it for free,” says the self-taught photographer, who was a software program engineer.

Winner of 35Awards

“My daughter is my inspiration. In the three years I worked with my Canon 6D Mark II, I read up all I could find on portrait photography and even set up a home studio.” In 2018, Garima’s portraits gained worldwide recognition with AFNS (for new-born and maternity images) and 35Awards.

After her ‘My Dad Your Freedom’ collection portraying the human aspect of fathers in uniform and their daughters went viral, Garima wandered into the ethereal genius of Raja Ravi Varma whereas on a go to to the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery at the Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore.

From the My Dad Your Freedom series

From the My Dad Your Freedom collection  
| Photo Credit:
Garima Dixit

Ravi Varma’s distinct aura of an India passed by, whether or not mythological, patrician or plebeian, are captured in illuminating element. Dramatic and with a play of shade and light-weight, his secular and sacred oleographs hit India like a thunderbolt at the flip of the 19th Century once they have been mass produced and broke the limitations of caste and sophistication once they have been featured in calendars.

“When I visited the gallery I was drawn to both Ravi Varma and SL Haldankar’s famous Glow of Hope and to how women are represented in our culture. The images stayed with me and one evening when I was at a park in Udhampur observing Army and BRO {Border Roads Organisation} wives and daughters I thought why not shoot a series with them as Ravi Varma’s muses,” says Garima.

She provides, “I had no trouble sourcing the saris and the jewellery as defence wives tend to have every type thanks to their travels across the country.”

A recreation of SL Haldankar’s Glow of Hope

A recreation of SL Haldankar’s Glow of Hope  
| Photo Credit:
Garima Dixit

Garima determined to recreate eight work and says that establishing the shoot took about an hour though the challenge stretched to a month earlier than the lockdown. “Most of the saris had to be draped in the nauvari fashion. For some shots I used strobe lights. I then choreographed the subject in the same manner as the original.”

Recreation of Raja Ravi Varma’s Radha waiting for Krishna

Recreation of Raja Ravi Varma’s Radha ready for Krishna  
| Photo Credit:
Garima Dixit

The images are painterly. The gentle captures the conventional stamp of Ravi Varma and Haldankar amalgamating European method with Indian sensibility. Some sitters stare into the digicam shyly, others look away into the distance, with longing. The luminosity of each pearl in the necklace, the deep ruby of the nagpada chain and the sleek fall off the sari lend old-world appeal.

While many have recreated these work as images, the place Garima’s non-commercial work scores is that she has understood gentle nicely and never used skilled fashions.

While her digicam and her studio travels together with her, placing down roots wherever the Army sends her, Garima says that photographing “people will always be my focus”.


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