It was wonderful to be back at the Le Meridien Hub at the India art Fair, photographing the Rhythm on Canvas performance. The transition from Starwood to Marriott doesn’t feel complete but I felt right at home with the familiar faces at my client’s event.
Unaware of any other brands that are able to successfully combine performance art with brand-building, I have always marveled at how well Le Meridien seems to be able to pull it off. I’d photographed the lovely Esther Maasdam at the Le Meridien Hub at the India Art Fair in 2015 and a couple of the photographs from that performance are some of my favourites from my portfolio.
When Meena ji and Akanksha told me about the plan to have artist Sankha Samanta paint to the beat of drums, at the India Art Fair venue, I was already very excited about getting to photograph the setup for them. 2017 is the fifth year that the brand has been involved with the Art Fair – as a photographer, I hope this association continues! I get to meet the lovely people of both organisations and I get to photograph whatever it is they are up to.
It was fascinating to watch both sets of artists tune their instruments and figure out the actual color of their paints under the blue light as they prepared to launch into the performance. Sankha was using oodles of brightly coloured acrylic paints and my artist friend who accompanied me to the shoot gave me ideas of how I could try some techniques at home to come up with interesting textures on the canvas. The moment the smell of acrylic paints hit my nose, I couldn’t help but get even MORE excited at the prospect of what was to come next. I wasn’t prepared for it.
Looking at Sankha – he is 52 years old – I felt silly complaining about how long I had to stand on my feet outside while photographing street style. Sankha went with the beat and then some. He is gracious, passionate and the two drummers were sweating a whole lot more than he was by the end of the performance. He did NOT stop. With the beat of the drums, he dipped his brushes in the paint and stayed at it. Flecks splashed this way and that and if you were close to the canvas, you got blessed by some flecks yourself. Great energy at the VIP Lounge.
Drums and sponges cut into unique shapes and rubber wipers we use to wipe water off counters and mugs of water. Alongside a bunch of bright colors including gold and copper. By the time the entire canvas was covered and the beat of the drums had ceased, we were wondering where this work of art would finally find a place on the wall. I might have suggested to my client that I’d love to take it home. Mr. Thakral will probably find it a suitable home sooner than I can blink. It’s a nice feeling to know there’s an art connoisseur running the hotel – profit plus the arts – no better combination.
After the performance wrapped up, I sat down to eat-up. The cinnamon tea and the chicken kathi rolls and the vada pav – but in the VIP Lounge. An attempt to recreate street food within the exclusive environs of the India Art Fair. Full marks for the intent.
Previous work for Le Meridien, New Delhi on Naina.co
I’ve been covering the India Art Fair, 2017 on the blog – phone photos, DSLR photos, for clients and for personal stories. If you see me stationed outside the entrance with my yellow camera, do walk by so I can photograph you for another client for their street style series!