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Unveiling the Enigmatic A Photographic Odessey: Nihaal Faizal at Chatterjee & Lal

In the realm of art, some creations resonate deeply, striking a chord with our collective memory and personal experiences. This sentiment encapsulates the compelling essence of Nihaal Faizal's photography, a visual journey that takes us back to familiar yet enigmatic landscapes. In the forthcoming exhibition titled hosted by Chatterjee & Lal in Mumbai’s Colaba region, an, aptly titled “red curtain opening”. In the image of “The Photograph”, Faizal leads us through a captivating exploration of the photographic medium, transforming mundane visuals into evocative spectacles that challenge our perceptions and stir our emotions. At first glance, the photographs on display draw us in with their striking familiarity—the turquoise waters of a beach, the golden expanse of a windswept desert, the fiery hues of an autumn forest, the enigmatic Stonehenge, and the tranquil embrace of a green hill against a clear blue sky. Upon closer examination, however, these seemingly ordinary images reveal their true essence. They are none other than the iconic wallpapers that graced the screens of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, a nostalgic reminder of our earliest digital encounters.

These wallpapers, once a distant presence on our computer screens, are now transformed into commanding prints in Faizal's Landscape Photographs series (2014). Through a captivating documentary approach, the artist extracts these digital images, prints them at a local photo studio, and then photographs the prints themselves. This process imbues the images with a unique aspect ratio, echoing the transformation they underwent—captured by different photographers using medium-format cameras, digitized, and resized to fit computer screens. The arresting white smudge, resembling the sun, imprinted on each photograph is a testament to Faizal's artistry. This flash serves as both a documentation of the process and a visual reminder of the camera's presence. These marks unveil the intricate journey these images undertook—from personal to public, from print to screen, and back again.

One of the highlight features of the exhibition is the video installation titled "red curtains opening" (2014). This compelling piece compiles computer-generated footage sourced from Shutterstock, unveiling a mesmerizing interplay of recurring events. Red theatre curtains sweep open, revealing a sequence of blank canvases—a symphony of black screens, green screens, and empty stages adorned with shimmering lights. Amidst this unfolding void, a watermark of Shutterstock hovers, as if orchestrating this visual symphony. Faizal ingeniously brings us face-to-face with the concept of stock images in the video, four sexy girls hold a green screen at the beach (2014). This video gathers iterations of the same clip, sourced from various stock image websites. Four girls donning Christmas hats hold a green screen, as laughter, interactions, and gazes play out against the backdrop of a sun-kissed beach. Here, the green screen symbolizes the limitless potential for image insertion, a visual emptiness brimming with infinite possibilities.

In a masterful exploration of art and concept, Dummy (2022) takes center stage—a collection of mass-produced dummy CCTV cameras displayed alongside their commercial packaging. These cameras, bearing an uncanny resemblance to genuine surveillance devices, raise questions about authenticity and functionality. Their activation with batteries elicits a display of red static or flashing light, adding to the intrigue. The accompanying packaging, adorned with stock images of potential installation spaces, offers an insight into the interplay of fakeness, realness, and authenticity. Through these diverse works, Nihaal Faizal invites us into a world where photography becomes a reflection of its own essence. The act of representation, once straightforward, unfolds into a labyrinth of complex meanings. With Faizal's keen eye and artistic finesse, the photograph, the screen, and the curtain intermingle, giving rise to a visual symphony that captivates, challenges, and delights.

Prepare to be transported into a realm where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, where digital memories come to life on the canvas of art. The exhibition The Photograph beckons you to delve into the intricacies of perception, representation, and transformation. Join us for a preview of Nihaal Faizal at Chatterjee & Lal, on 10th August 2023. On view from 11 Aug - 16 September 2023. This mesmerizing journey through the lens of Nihaal Faizal, and witness the unfolding of narratives that are both timeless and contemporary. This is an opportunity to experience the convergence of technology and art, nostalgia and innovation, in a captivating showcase that will leave a lasting imprint on your artistic sensibilities.


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