Last winter, when photographer Ronny Sen was at an art residency in Gdańsk, Poland, he was possessed by the idea of discovering a past that mirrored the Communist landscape of his hometown, Kolkata. Everywhere he went, he found himself unconsciously seeking out the colour red.
“The serendipitous connection became the locus of my attempts to connect to a place I was otherwise a stranger to,” said the 30-year-old, who wanted to work with individual shades in his pictures, like Polish film-maker Krzysztof Kieślowski did in Three Colors Trilogy.
However, Sen soon realised that he was searching for symbols of a shared past that no longer existed in Gdańsk. “I failed terribly; the colours in my memory were different from what I was encountering,” said Sen. “I wasn’t sure what I was looking for anymore. I had thought that capturing colours... and arranging them in order would reveal meaning, but I ended up photographing mundane...even banal things.”
After that realisation, Sen moved on to photographing the streets, the people, and, unable to let go, the fading traces of the Left and the colour red. The outcome of those three weeks – a collection of photographs called New World Chronicles of An Old World Colour – is going on display at Mumbai’s Tarq gallery on July 7.
Sen might not have achieved what he set out to, but he did manage in the process to capture the winter landscape of an old Polish city – the subdued hues, and the soft quietness after a snowfall. Some of the images reveal the bleak winter by looking at the contrasting glow of houses and apartments.
Sen, who has won numerous awards, including the Sony World Photography Awards and the National Geographic Magazine Award, makes the dreary look beautiful in his portrayal of the winter.
New World Chronicles of An Old World Colour will be on display from July 7 to July 28 at Tarq gallery, Colaba, Mumbai.