Spotlight

Geometry and Motion: Steve McCurry and Chand Boari, India

01st July 2021
Chand Baori Stepwell, Rajasthan, India, 2016 Steve McCurry

Words Eleanor Lerman

01st July 2021

Throughout his long and prolific career, Steve McCurry has retained an acute interest in India’s people, monuments, landscapes, seasons, and cities. Having visited India over 80 times, three decades of McCurry’s photographs are defined by the country’s vibrant culture and vivid colours. Although a frequent visitor of the country, McCurry feels as though he’s ‘barely scratched the surface’ of the beauty it holds. India was the location of McCurry’s first photographic expedition, and the artist states that he was instantly struck by its unique ‘varied cultures and customs and regions’. As well as embracing India’s astounding cityscapes and natural settings, McCurry often focuses on capturing everyday people in extraordinary moments. His photographs include people participating in the multicoloured Holi festival, flower sellers floating along the canals of Kashmir, and villagers tackling the swathes of water brought about during Monsoon season.

Chand Baori Stepwell, Rajasthan, India, 2016 Steve McCurry

    Chand Baori Stepwell, taken in Rajasthan in 2016 depicts a woman cloaked in a red Sari descending the seemingly infinite stone steps of a monumental well. Chand Baori dates back to the 8th century and consists of 3500 narrow steps over 13 stories. Extending six stories below ground level, Chand Baori is one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India. As well as having a large temple attached to the back face of the building, the stepwell serves multiple purposes as the site for drawing water and religious ceremonies.

    Focusing on a single wall of the stepwell, McCurry’s scene appears futile. The undulating patterns of diagonal steps repeat themselves in everlasting rhythmic motion, seemingly leading nowhere. So too, the woman is captured in movement, her sari dragging on the steps she has just climbed down from. Within the labyrinthine composition, McCurry’s image appears abstracted, documenting a series of lines and shapes rather than a historical site. Parting from the usual bustling activity and bright colours of McCurry’s India pictures, Chand Baori signifies a moment of reflective silence. Instantly recognisable, the splash of red sari amongst the earthy brown brick subtly identifies that the image was still taken in India. Chand Baori presents a different side to McCurry’s India photographs, introducing an aspect of his style definitively less concerned with activity. Nonetheless, Chand Baori reflects an area full of culture, heritage, and silent beauty.

    FeaturedSteve McCurry

    AFGHAN-GIRL-PESHAWAR-PAKISTAN-1984-by-STEVE-MCCURRY-c04931

    The ArtistSteve McCurry (born 1950) is best known for his evocative colour photographs that document both human struggles and joy. Having travelled the globe for over thirty years, McCurry has photographed warzones, burning oil fields, refugee camps, ship breaking yards and monsoons all over the world. A member of Magnum Photos since 1986, many of his images have become modern icons.

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