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India in focus

Feature Rare and vintage images, captured by some of the most iconic names in photography, are on show at a major new exhibition in Dubai.

Rare and vintage images, captured by some of the most iconic names in photography, are on show at a major new exhibition in Dubai. Mark Twain once said of India that it is "the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked." Throughout history, India has inspired great artists, writers, philosophers and photographers, and in a remarkable new exhibition at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai, images of India captured by some of the most famous photographers of the past two centuries are on display together for the first time.

In total, 48 images will be shown; ranging from late 19th century to the 1990s. Among the photographers are Henri Cartier-Bresson, considered the father of modern photojournalism, who came to India in 1947 and spent the rest of his life fascinated with the country, visiting it a total of six times. "Cartier-Bresson and India are closely linked," says Elie Domit, the creative director of The Empty Quarter and the exhibition's curator. "He really came to fame after shooting Gandhi's funeral in 1948."

Another celebrated photographer whose work is on show is Margaret Bourke-White, who was sent to India by LIFE Magazine to cover the war between India and Pakistan and photographed Gandhi only hours before his assassination. Other names of note include Bruno Barbey, Marc Riboud, Betsy Karel, Ernst Haas and Samuel Bourne who became synonymous with British Indian photography after he spent seven prolific years from 1863 to 1870 photographing the country. His images, with their luminescent quality, exemplify classic Raj photography.

"India, as a subject, is so special," says Domit. "Each photographer has chosen it for his or her own reasons; for some it is the light, for others, the mystery. We are lucky to have these images because some parts of India have almost been forgotten or lost. "This wonderful exhibition is long overdue," he adds. "These are iconic photographers who will influence many generations to come. India has always had an incredible fascination and now it is becoming a great power.

"A lot of changes have taken place and these images enable us to go back in time; they speak more than 1,000 words." Sacred Sight: Photographs In India can be seen at The Empty Quarter Fine Art Photography Gallery, Gate Village, Building 2, DIFC, Dubai, until February 5. For more information, call 04 323 1210 or visit www.theemptyquarter.com

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