‘Goodbye Padmini’

‘Goodbye Padmini’ is Photographer Aparna Jayakumar’s solo exhibition at Bakehouse Art Complex in Miami. Aparna brings a bit of Mumbai, the city where she grew up to the US. When I first set eyes on Aparna Jayakumar’s photographs, that were put up in her Mumbai home, where she lived with her sister and father, I noticed a great sense of empathy and sensitivity in her work. I was also captured by her ability to compose a well-balanced frame in a split second. The hallmark of those photographers, inspired by the likes of Henry Cartier Bresson in her early years, was the decisive moment. While Aparna’s oeuvre has grown to include conceptual photographs, alongside documentary work, her frames are still characterized by the quality of timeliness. I curated Aparna’s first exhibition in Mumbai at TSAR Art Gallery, titled Inside Out. Seven years later, it was delightful to catch up with Aparna and talk about her solo show.

Q: Do tell us how the Bakehouse show came about.
A: I met the current Executive Director of the Bakehouse Arts Center when she was in Doha. She was excited about my work and felt it was a good fit with the Bakehouse.

Q: What would you say is special about the Padmini series that defines it from your other body of works?
A: The personal connection with the Padmini taxis, as I grew up with them. 

Q: What inspired you to do the Padmini Series?
A: It started out as a commission from an Italian publishing company to document the Italian-made Fiat car that had been appropriated by India as the Padmini. I then found that there was a bigger human story about the immigrant taxi drivers and began to pursue that on my own.

Q: How has the journey been, from your first group show in Mumbai/Bombay to the Bakehouse show?
A: The journey has taken a long time! And only just begun.

Q: Who do you admire among your peers?
A: Ronny Sen, Poulomi Basu, Avani Tanya and Ritesh Uttamchandani. among others.

Q: What would your advice be to aspiring photographers?
A: Be disciplined about your work. Open your mind to all kinds of experiences and never stop exploring.

Q: In an age of the phone camera with a glut of imagery, what defines a professional photographer from the hobbyist?
A: It is a unique way of seeing and skill that defines a photographer from a hobbyist, as technology is still to replace the human eye.
Q: If you had total freedom to shoot, what would you choose as your next project?
A: I would want to have a window into people’s private lives.

Q. What are the biggest hurdles that you face as a woman photographer and do you feel things are changing?
A: Juggling family and work and yes things are slowly changing.

Aparna’s solo show indicates that women photographers are changing the world of photography with pluck and alacrity. With each passing year her work reflects her dedication and love for the art form.

View more images from this series on her website here.

All images © Aparna Jayakumar. (Images used with permission).