Amid lush green vegetation, this photograph by Max Kandhola shows a ruined temple. Other than the abandoned building, this tranquil scene reveals no trace of human presence. Haloed by overarching trees, the temple's walls are covered in moss. Although its identity is unknown, this is a 'gurdwara', a religious building traditionally regarded as the seat of a guru. Despite its decay, its classical architecture retains an aura of grandeur within the overgrown landscape.
Kandhola took this photograph in Punjab, the region nestled between India, Pakistan and the region of Jammu and Kashmir. Literally translated as 'The Land of the Five Rivers' ('punj' is 'five'; 'aab' is 'rivers'), this is the spiritual birthplace of Sikhism. This photograph is from Kandhola's series 'Flatland: A Landscape of Punjab' (2003-2006). Intended to counteract stereotypical depictions of Punjab as a dusty, bustling urban area, he composed landscapes referencing Western artists such as Constable and Monet. Flatland is the second in a photographic trilogy of works related to family, memory and the geographical landscape of Kandhola's cultural heritage, specifically his experience of life in Britain as a second generation Punjabi. He has said:
'My visual composition has inevitably been influenced by English landscapes and gardens. The British suburban garden is a part of British identity. And for many Punjabis who live in England, cultivation of the land - its nurturing and its produce - is both a lasting memory and an association with Punjab, as it was for my father'.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Max Kandhola is a fine art photographer who has exhibited his work widely. He is also Senior Lecturer in Photographic Studies at Nottingham Trent University. Flatland was first shown at the Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham in 2007 to accompany the publication of his monograph; other solo exhibitions have been held in London, Glasgow, Bratislava, New York and Delhi.
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