Raghu Rai – Mentor

Center For Photography

 

Raghu Rai (born in December 1942) qualified as civil engineer, started photography at the age of 23 in 1965. He joined The Statesman newspaper as their chief photographer (1966 to 1976), and was then Picture Editor with Sunday—a weekly news magazine published from Calcutta (1977 to 1980).

In 1971, impressed by Rai’s exhibition at Gallery Delpire, Paris, the legendary photographer Henri Cartier Bresson nominated him to Magnum Photos, the world’s most prestigious photographer’s cooperative which Rai could start only in 1977.

Rai took over as Picture Editor-Visualiser-Photographer of India Today, India’s leading news magazine in its formative years. He worked on special issues and designs, contributing trailblazing picture essays on social, political and cultural themes of the decade (1982 to 1991) which became the talking point of the magazine.

He was awarded the ‘Padmashree’ in 1972, one of India’s important civilian awards ever given to a photographer for the body of works he produced on Bangladesh refugees, the war and the surrender. In 1992 he was awarded “Photographer of the Year” in the United States for the story “Human Management of Wildlife in India” published in National Geographic. In 2009 he was conferred Officier des Arts et des Lettres by French Govt.

THE WORK AND LIFE OF RAGHU RAI HAVE BEEN DOCUMENTED BY BOTH NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES. WHILE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC,CNN AND BBC MADE DOCUMENTARIES ON HIM AS PART OF THE GREATEST PHOTOGRAPHERS OF THE WORLD IN EARLY 2000s, THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS IN INDIA MADE A COMPREHENSIVE DOCUMENTARY ON HIM IN 2010. HIS WORKS ARE A PERMANENT COLLECTION OF BIBLIOTHIC NATIONALE, PARIS, NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART, INDIA AND MANY OTHER PRIVATE COLLECTORS AND MUSEUMS.

His photo essays have appeared in many of the world’s leading magazines and newspapers – including Time, Life, GEO, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Die Welt, The New York Times, Sunday The Times-London, Newsweek, Vogue, GQ, D magazine, Marie Claire, The Independent and the New Yorker. He has been an adjudicator for World Press Photo Contest, Amsterdam and UNESCO’s International Photo Contest for many times.

He has done extensive work on the photo documentation of 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy and its continuing effects on the lives of gas victims under a special assignment from Greenpeace International. This documentation was compiled into a book with 3 sets of exhibitions traveling in Europe, America, Australia, India and South East Asia from 2002 to 2005, which created greater awareness about the tragedy and bringing relief to many survivors.

A special exhibition and picture book was created on India and Mexico in year 2002 in which his work was published along with two renowned photographers Graciela Iturbide (Mexico) and Sebastiao Salagado (France). His works have been published in major books done by Magnum Photos including Exhibitions.

Born and brought up in India, for him India is his whole world. Probably the only photographer who prefers to photograph his homeland and people as he feels it is his responsibility and a challenge to go on and explore the ethos and power of an ancient civilization of his own country than dabble in all kinds of travel abroad. This has, probably, given him and his work an edge over any body photographing India. He believes ‘Over the centuries’, so much has melded into India, that its not really one country, its not one culture. It is crowded with crosscurrents of many religions, beliefs, cultures and their practices that may appear incongruous. But India keeps alive the inner spirit of her own civilization with all its contradictions. Here, several centuries have learnt to live side by side at the same time. And a good photograph is lasting witness to that as photo history of our times. Being a multi-lingual, multi- cultured and multi- religious society, the images must speak these complexities through a multi- layered experience.

Probably only photographer who has produced more than 30 books on different aspects / life and themes on India. There are 4/5 books in the pipeline.

LIST OF BOOKS

  • Indira Gandhi (1971, 1985)
  • Mother Teresa – Faith & Compassion (1971, 1996)
  • Bihar shows the way (1977)
  • The Sikhs (1984, 2002),
  • Raghu Rai’s Delhi(1985, 1992),
  • Romance of India (1985)
  • Taj Mahal, (1986)
  • Calcutta (1989),
  • Khajuraho (1991),
  • Tibet in Exile (1991, 2012),
  • My land and it’s people (1995)
  • Lakshadweep (1996)
  • Men Metal and Steel (1998)
  • Madhya Pradesh (2000)
  • Indira Gandhi – A living legacy (2004)
  • Mother Teresa – A life of dedication (2004)
  • India notes (2005) curated by Magnum Photos,
  • Raghu Rai’s India – Reflections in Black & White (2007)
  • Raghu Rai’s India – Reflections in Colour (2008)
  • Calcutta – Kolkata – 2008
  • Delhi – Contrast and confluences – 2008
  • Tibet in Exile – 2009
  • India’s Great Masters – a Photographic journey into the heart of classical music – 2010
  • Bombay – Mumbai – where dreams don’t die – 2010
  • The Indians – 150 years of portraiture in India – 2010
  • Varanasi – Portrait of a Civilization – 2010

Besides winning many national and international awards, Rai has exhibited his works around the world. His solo show has been held in many countries.

Some Of The Major Exhibitions

  • RETROSPECTIVE AT MUSEO DE CAPITOLINI- ROME- 2005.
  • RAGHU RAI’S RETROSPECTIVE, ARLES PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL – 2007
  • RAGHU RAI’S RETROSPECTIVE, SPAIN – 2007
  • RAGHU RAI’S RETROSPECTIVE, BARCELONA AND MADRID – 2007
  • ASIATICA FILM MEDIALE, ROME – 2008
  • RAGHU RAI – A RETROSPECTIVE – NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART, NEW DELHI -2008 FOR TWO MONTHS
  • RAGHU RAI – A RETROSPECTIVE – NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART, MUMBAI -2008 FOR THREE MONTHS.
  • RAGHU RAI – A RETROSPECTIVE – AICON GALLERY, LONDON 2010.( THIS SHOW RECEIVED FULL PAGE COVERAGE IN SUNDAY GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, BBC AND VARIOUS OTHER PUBLICATIONS. ALL THE WORKS IN THE SHOW WERE SOLD)
  • WOMEN CHANGING INDIA – SAACHI GALLERY, LONDON 2011

Other Exhibtions

  • Gallery Delpire, Paris – 1971
  • Nikon Gallery, Tokyo – 1972
  • Gallery Tsurumoto- 1992
  • A Retrospective at NGMA, New Delhi – 1997
  • Bunkamura Museum, Tokyo, -2001,
  • Kendamy Museum – Italy,2002,
  • A Retrospective – Photofusion, London, UK – 2002
  • Volkart Foundation, Winterthur, Switzerland- 2002
  • Sala Consiliare, Venice, Itlay – 2003
  • Photographic Gallery, Helsinki, Finland – 2003
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA – 2003
  • Drik Gallery, Dhaka, Bangladesh – 2004
  • Museo di Storia Naturale- Milan,
  • Galery Caolmine- Switzerland,
  • Centro Cultural Recoleta- Argentina,
  • Centro Universitario Belas Artes- Sao Paulo,
  • Leica Gallery-Prague, 2004
  • Melkweg Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands – 2005
  • Art Car Museum- Texas (Houston),
  • Australian Museum, College St, Sydney,
  • Fait et Cause Gallery – Paris.
  • Earthscapes series, India – 2007
  • Earthscapes series, Singapore – 2007
  • Just by the way – clouds, rocks and nudes, India – 2007
  • Master Musicians of India – Singapore – 2007
  • Raghu Rai’s India – Pathshala, Drik, Bangladesh 2009
  • Master musicians of India – Lalit Kala Academy – Delhi 2010
  • Mother Teresa, A life dedicated – Visual Art Gallery, Delhi and Kolkata 2010
  • Raghu Rai’s India – reflections in color, Aurodhan Art Gallery, Pondicherry, 2010
  • India – Mexico – The parallel wings – Instituto of Cervantes, New Delhi – 2010
  • Calcutta –Kolkata, Harrington Street Arts Center, Calcutta, 2010
  • Format Festival Jan 2011
  • Foto Freo Festival, Austrailia, 2011

Raghu Rai lives in New Delhi with his family and continues to be an associate of Magnum Photos.