In this online exhibition, we uncover the remarkable and largely unseen archive of Suresh Punjabi, whose photographs chronicle the social and personal lives of a diverse community of people from the industrial town of Nagda, Madhya Pradesh. The Business of Dreams: Photographs from the Studio of Suresh Punjabi consists of ninety portraits made by Punjabi in Nagda and is the most comprehensive exploration of Punjabi’s work to date, drawing from existing literature, visual analyses, technical histories and, crucially, numerous conversations with the artist.
While the studio continues to be in operation today, this exhibition focuses mainly on a body of work from between 1979 and 1990. Not only was this period his most prolific, but it also aligns with a time when studios were becoming increasingly common outside major cities, while personal cameras were still a luxury commodity. Suhag Studio, like thousands across the country, became significant to the daily lives of those it served, as Punjabi’s clients commissioned him for a range of photographs, from the formal and administrative to the informal and ceremonial. Having digitally remastered the negatives, MAP presents them in their original clarity to new online audiences, over forty years after Suhag Studio first opened its doors.
Suresh Punjabi, Untitled (Portrait of a woman with a bunch of grapes), 1981
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