Sublime Landscapes: Photographs of Asia

Sublime Landscapes: Photographs of Asia by Dr. Dilip Raval is a quiet, reverent, and thought-provoking exhibition of large-format landscape photographs on exhibit at the Crow Collection of Asian Art through August 12, 2012.

The 40 photographs are largely pastoral scenes of Raval’s home, India, and scenes photographed in Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, Indonesia, and China. The main floor gallery is full of photographs that span over 35 years.  One gets the sense, however, that time passes differently in the ancient places depicted in the images.

Most of Raval’s photographs are panoramic-scale landscapes, but a few are nature portraits.  Hung together are four of my favorite works in the show: Cherry Blossoms, Kyoto Imperial Garden and Cherry Blossoms paired with Maples in Autumn 2006 and Maples in Autumn 2007.

Maples in Autumn 2007 is an otherworldly, soft, painterly remembrance of nature’s explosion of color in the autumn. With the brightest oranges, yellows, and lime greens against a lush chrome green backdrop, Raval caught this brilliant life just at the right moment.

The large landscapes are exquisitely detailed records of landscapes that look ancient and unaffected by the passage of time.  Snow-capped mountains, icy rivers, lush green rice and tea crops, misty and mysterious atmospheric haze, tiny switch-back curved mountain roads are the subjects of Raval’s pictures.  The isolation depicted disagrees with the fact that he was there to take the photograph.

In Rice Fields Bhutan, the thick atmosphere prevents view of the top of the mountain in a “Paradise Lost” illustration.  This is a scene that could easily launch an expedition to see what lies beyond.

A series of photographs in Ladakh, India are my favorites.  The Zanskar and Indus River Confluence is a monochromatic photograph of brown, white, and dark green with a pop of that special lavender/blue/gray snow shadow color we rarely see in North Texas.  It’s cold in this picture and the place depicted is too big, too austere, and too daunting to be inhabited by man. 

A few of the photographs can’t fully be appreciated because of the glare of the gallery lighting on the reflective glass.  If I owned one of these photographs in my collection, I would surely want Raval’s signature on the print rather than the digital copyright imprimatur with which they are signed.

Every image is stunning and the show really requires a return visit to take it all in.  The Crow Collection continues to find unusual, educational, and beautiful exhibits that transport viewers to a different place.