Bachpan: A Solo Show by Vicky Roy

12 May 2020 - 12 July 2020

Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, Delhi, India

Vicky Roy: Odisha, 2019. Photograph. Courtesy of Vadehra Art Gallery

Vadehra Art Gallery is pleased to present an online exhibition of black-and-white photographs by artist Vicky Roy, whose lens features lower-income-household children amidst the act of play. With this digital presentation, we are further pleased to announce a new digital endeavour – FRESH by Vadehra Art Gallery – a series of online exhibitions hosted on our website, through which we will support our younger artists and direct a percentage of proceeds by way of contribution to charities and NGOs who are working towards rehabilitating communities that are suffering due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Part of the proceeds from this exhibition will serve as a contribution to Salaam Baalak Trust, an NGO which supports street and working children in the inner cities of New Delhi, with whom the artist shares a personal relationship. In particular Roy’s subject matter, imbued with the arresting tranquility of a moment of pleasure found outdoors, powerfully resonates with us amidst the lockdown due to COVID-19.

Titled Bachpan, this collection of candid photographs examines the psychology and principles of childhood games as performed specifically by underprivileged children living in major Indian cities, who have limited access to toys and equipment, and are instructed or expected to share their findings and belongings with other children in the community. The greatest resource being the company of other children, Roy highlights how each of these photographs feature groups of children and not single portraits, representing the largeness of communities and the logistics of play. An ongoing series, the featured locales so far include Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal. His travels presently interrupted by the nationwide lockdown, Roy plans to capture the subtle variations in childhood play considering every Indian state as a setting, thus broadening the breadth of his focus for the first time, unlike his earlier work that has centered only on a particular landscape, city or relief feature.

Roy’s youthful protagonists display boldness and confidence, climbing trees to test their limits, bathing in ponds for simple pleasures, and inventing activities using humble found objects and their imaginations. For Roy, the idyll of childhood is preserved by a culture of curiosity rather than access to resources. In capturing the crux of innocence framing childhood experiences, Roy’s photographs demonstrate an expressionist quality that render them emotionally pliant and narratively relatable, regardless of background. The success of adulthood and the diversity of geography, economy and perspective are less consequential to the nostalgia of youth, which stirs up an equitable and palpable carefreeness shared by many.

View the exhibition on the gallery’s website here.

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