The photography show of the year is here. Internationally revered photographer Kounteya Sinha is all set to unveil his 2018 repertoire Viva (a Spanish word that means ‘alive’) on March 16 at a 200 year old dying mansion in Kolkata.

Kounteya Sinha’s Viva: Photography Exhibition to showcase international collection of structures of antiquity to Kolkata

Kounteya Sinha photographer
The photographer.

What: VIVA photography exhibition in association with Calcutta Heritage Collective

When: Preview (By Invitation) 16 March, 2018 (5-8 pm);

Exhibition 17 – 18 March (12 – 8 pm)

Where: Emami Foundation, 48 B Muktaram Babu Street, Near Marble Palace, Kolkata

Viva photography
Portugal. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

Kounteya Sinha has a penchant for flamboyance and the extraordinary. Friends close to him call him “an untiring tidal wave” that loves what is daunting and keeps returning to the shore to tame the impossible.

A disappearing act is probably his only predictable virtue.

But then, he appears out of nowhere with this eclectic and path breaking work – announces his repertoire – he usually does two shows a year – and then takes the city by storm only to once more return to his solitary lair.

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You will never see him take a short cut. His projects are elaborate, spectacular and a sure recipe for a win.

Viva photography
London. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

His sense of dimension and size of an idea even before it is born is an uncanny gift straight from the Gods.

And this time too, the artist in him hasn’t disappointed.

Like all his other shows, Sinha has decided to open his 2018 summer repertoire VIVA in Kolkata this Friday – March 16.

And from the sneak preview we have received of his latest work that in Spanish means alive, we can only say that Sinha’s tidal wave this time is all set to crash the Richter scale.

Viva photography
Hungary. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

The work will first bleed you dry and then infuse you with a fresh hope of life. His intense, borderline manic obsession with “art that matters” – where he believes that creativity must have purpose and meaning and must be strong and wild enough to take on a mission, however difficult, has once again made this young creative power house come up with an idea to draw out the city and pledge themselves to a single finite purpose – to save Kolkata’s dying heritage.

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Viva photography
Greece. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

The internationally revered journalist who has over 15,000 articles to his credit written from across the world – it almost seems unimaginable for a single lifetime that is far from over – is unveiling his 2018 repertoire on Friday March 16 in front of the city’s who’s who.

Kounteya is known to draw the creme-de-la-creme – his shows are a must visit for them.

Viva photography
Kolkata. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

Interestingly, his studio this time is no plush five star hotel or a sparkling white gallery like the Harrington where Kounteya’s show – The Stone – in 2016 was a rage. This time, Kounteya’s quirkiness has taken an interesting turn. The show is taking place in a 200-year old structural marvel which was once north Kolkata’s architectural pride but is at present in shambles.

The mansion on Muktaram Babu Street with gigantic pillars, cast-iron railings, French style windows, masterfully worked cornices and an absolutely enviable façade is the venue for Kolkata’s most sought after show of 2018 – VIVA.

Viva photography
Mumbai. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

For the first time ever, internationally renowned Sinha has chosen to highlight Kolkata’s dying heritage by doing his show in a house that is crumbling.

While most artists would chose the luxurious and more secured confines of an art gallery or a hotel, Sinha has broken new ground by choosing a building with stairs that are rickety and Roman columns barely holding on to the seams.

The show intends to tell the world that these buildings are of great architectural value to the story and history of Bengal – always revered globally as the mecca for art and culture. Sinha’s photographs that make up this show have been taken over the past six years during the photographer’s extensive journey across the world.

Viva photography
Spain. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

Interestingly, Sinha has tied up with the newly formed Calcutta Heritage Collective – a voluntary citizen’s initiative that aims is to build pride in the city’s built heritage. Cofounded by eminent architect Mukul Agarwal and Ayan Chattopadhyay, the Collective which is over 50 member strong is making its most purpose known through the show – their motto being Respect, Restore, Reuse.

The city’s renowned scenographer Swarup Dutta is setting up the show – very challenging considering most of the building is in shambles.

The photos span across 25 different cities – from Kolkata to Barcelona, Mexico city to Budapest, London to Vilnius.

Most of the works are in the form of Sinha’s favourite medium of story-telling – black and white.

Viva photography
France. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

“Architecture is actually a gigantic repository of human life and death and everything in between. Kolkata – what was once the British Empire’s second most important city is unparalleled across the globe when it comes to its built heritage. Most people never enter these buildings thinking them to be abandoned and hence letting them rot and die.  The Collective and I intend to bring Kolkata’s good people to actually see such marvels and feel that pain of losing them forever,” Sinha said.

Kounteya isn’t a trained professional photographer and hates technical talk over shutter speeds and aperture. But his immaculate eye and sense of story telling has made this outsider a toast of the art world across the globe.

Viva photography
Mexico. Photo credits: Kounteya Sinha

His work probes the hidden and yet his language is simple.

Shy and reticent about his photographs, a tad bit embarrassed sometimes to even show it, Sinha’s latest work will hypnotise you beyond measure.

Miss this show at your own peril.