Dilip Raval belongs to the tradition of legendary American landscape photographers that includes Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Elliot Porter, and John Sexton. His subject, however, is landscapes of Asia. The photographs in this exhibition were taken on repeated visits to Raval’s homeland of India and during travel to Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, Indonesia, and China. The elements are vibrant and present, and the images evoke awe, respect, and deep personal and human identity with the natural world.
Movements of shape—layered mountains, deep valleys, terraced hillsides, leaves on a branch—and melodies of light and color draw the viewer through landscape toward a contemplative reverie that stops short of both nostalgia and cliché.
Many of Raval’s compositions are grand and symphonic. They are simultaneously far-reaching and precise, resolving form, light, color, shape, pattern, and prospect in a deeply satisfying and delicate harmony. Using the selective eye in the camera together with the manipulative potential of digital printmaking, the artist brings vast panoramas and close observations into the same frame. Movements of shape—layered mountains, deep valleys, terraced hillsides, leaves on a branch—and melodies of light and color draw the viewer through landscape toward a contemplative reverie that stops short of both nostalgia and cliché.
At first glance, the images appeal to an instinctive love of beauty, but like the sublime tradition to which they more properly belong, they also bring into question the preservation of the individual and of the natural order on which he depends, a quietly insistent fear that nothing so beautiful can endure. As John Sexton, a mentor to Raval, writes in his eloquent and sensitive introduction to the catalogue that accompanies this exhibition, Sublime Landscapes: Photographs of Asia by Dr. Dilip Raval:
“These are photographs of magical places in Asia as they are today. His images cause us to consider the importance of maintaining a balance between human activity and the delicate natural landscape to preserve these areas, not just for their beauty, but also for the preservation of life on this fragile orb we call Earth.”