“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality…One can’t possess reality, one can possess images–one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past.”
― Susan Sontag,
After ‘The Writer’s Eye’ and ‘The Historian’s Eye’ William Dalrymple is once again flaunting his photographer persona in his ongoing exhibition titled, ‘The Traveller’s Eye’ at Grosvenor Gallery, London. This series of black and white photographs is clicked during his extensive travels across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka while tracing the travel route of the protagonists of his most recent books.
Coupling history with photography, Dalrymple has quite successfully captured the very essence of the places, monuments and objects of history that are rooted in their time, but also traverse across ages. His portrayal of picturesque landscapes, majestic monuments and intricate architectural elements stand in contrast to his photographs of iconic artefacts such as Fasting Buddha and Mathura Boddhisatva which, in the closer view, dissolve the historical information, but reveal the soul of the artwork.
William Dalrymple is a prolific writer of Indian History, curator and photographer. He authored his very first book, In Xanadu, which brought him much acclaim. City of Djinns (1994), the second book, won the prestigious Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. But it was White Mughals (2003) that established him as a history writer, receiving the Wolfson Prize. His other publications include From the Holy Mountain, The Last Mughal, Return of a King, Kohinoor and The Anarchy, the most recent one. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2018, he was awarded the prestigious President’s Medal by the British Academy.
Image courtesy of grosvenor gallery