J.J. Valaya’s debut as lensman showcases streets of Delhi

Thursday, February 3, 2011

NEW DELHI - Leading fashion designer J.J. Valaya will lend colour to his vision of the capital’s streets as symbols of India’s cultural continuum when he presents his debut photography exhibition here - switching briefly from clothes to the lens.

The exposition, Decoded Paradox, will be presented by American Express in association with Glenfiddich in the capital Feb 16-18 and Feb 25-27 in Mumbai.

Valaya’s love affair with the lens goes back two decades.

“Over the past several years, alongside a successful career in fashion, I have romanced, and if I may add, enjoyed myself tremendously in a parallel secret existence in the company of a camera,” the Jodhpur-born designer told the media in a statement.

“Photography for me started as a hobby, one that I have cherished and pursued with great enthusiasm for over two decades,” he added.

“To me, taking pictures was akin to a karmic connect, as it bestowed me almost with a celestial ability to show the world not only just what I wanted to be seen, but also seize the moment and freeze it permanently,” he said.

Valaya said the “viewfinder of the camera can be curiously magical and therefore, it quite effectively pampered the artist in me, allowing me to deconstruct and recompose the world”.

For the last 20 years, Valaya shot at random in the capital’s streets, transforming everyday discarded objects into icons of art.

An abandoned dressing table that he found on the streets covered with a middle class laminate became an art deco street monolith while piles of truck tyres morphed into impromptu public art installation.

His style demonstrates that anything is possible on the Indian street, heritage activist and historian Aman Nath said introducing Valaya’s work, his style of photography and nature of art.

“Lord Vishnu may arrive painted with his ‘V’ mark and G.B. Road becomes Vaikuntha. Art works by master artists become surreal metaphors in Valaya’s frames. The low becomes ‘high’ for the haute society in his photographs,” Nath said.

Valaya relates to Delhi as a warm refuge like most migrants to the city.

“I came to Delhi 22 years ago with a solitary college friend as my only known contact in the city. I was overawed by the sense of scale and the crowd that Delhi is synonymous with, but was prepared to embrace this bustling giant in my quest to find the true path to follow my dreams,” he said.

“What a ride it has been. Not only did the city welcome me with open arms, but it also gave me the foundation to build the edifice of my dreams. Experiences, people, moments…have all been a part of the awakening and integration of my spirit into this city,” Valaya said.

“Therefore it was natural for me to mark my entry into the world of photography with a show that showcased the city, while interpreting its soul as well,” he said.

Valaya said “today’s Delhi was in the throes of modernisation and remodelling”.

“It is revelling in an economically-charged environment and its magic lives on the streets,” he said.

One of the top five fashion designers of the country, Valaya studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and graduated with three “distinctions and awards”.

He is known for his elaborate bridal wear and trousseau collection that draws from India’s traditional couture, heritage weaves, textiles and embellishments combined with an element of contemporary ethnic bling.

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