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Raghu Rai’s India

One of the top things on my to-do list this weekend is a visit to the Raghu Rai exhibition ‘Invocation to India’ at New Art Exchange (NAE). This acclaimed Magnum photographer always seems to hit the spot in capturing the beauty and bustle that is India. And when the Director of NAE, Skinder Hundal announced this exhibition during his stint as Guest Blogger on Creative Nottingham, I did a little ‘yay’. Having worked at a gallery that represented Rai, and having seen a lot of his work in Mumbai and New Delhi, this feels like having a little piece of home transported all the way to Nottingham.

What makes Rai’s photographs special is that in nearly every one of them, a face stands out from among the crowd. None of these shots are posed as Rai is masterful at blending into the background, taking the one photograph he wants and then briskly moving on. He is friendly, talks to everyone like they are old acquaintances, and always has a ready smile for those who are startled by his camera. And it is in doing this that he gives us a peek into the India of the little lanes and crannies, of the everyday man’s struggle to earn a living and find breathing space amidst the busy.

NAE is a centre for contemporary arts and visual crafts with a special focus on African, African Carribean and South Asian arts. It represents both what you don’t normally get to see, and what you don’t have to go far to see. The Rai exhibition also coincides with the Format Photography Festival and the launch of NAE’s exclusive smartphone feature that delivers free audio content on the exhibition to your phone.

I wish the NAE had put up more images of Rai’s work on their website. But here’s the link to the Magnum ones in case you want to have a closer look.