* “Compliments. What a beautiful portrait and one that’s more than a portrait, almost a religious artwork like an icon”. :

Frans Commelin via Linkedin


The India Drives – a coffee table book published by OUTLOOK, showcases the work done by corporate India’s leading companies that have put measures in place to incorporate social, ethical, environmental and consumer concerns into their business operations so as to improve the lives of their stakeholders.
It goes without saying that a coffee table book of such high caliber must have pictures that tell stories behind the actual content. To this end photographer and photo editor Gireesh GV has more than succeeded. Gireesh GV’s camera has captured how CSR has benefited the lives of thousands of underprivileged Indians with such sensitivity that the imagery is a work of art in itself.”

Nalini Menon / Book Editor/ The India Drives


Human figure projected as the central element of the composition was a  common feature of the Kerala art of 1980’s.  In the beginning the situations was very hopeful and the young artists carved out themselves an interestingly no-table profile in the national scenario.  But when the figuration of a peculiar kind, the high social concerns and the expressionistic overtones became the accepted criteria to judge a work of art and it later resulted into a kind of mannerism.  Gireesh, during his student days in Kerala was no exception to the trends and situations of his time.

            One could easily observe the occasional surfacing of these early influences in his works from 93-94’.  But towards the end of the first year post graduate studies at Hyderabad Gireesh seems to have cultivated reluctance to any accepted compositional norms.  The painter now sets forth a search for an expression in colour itself.  In the depiction of the Hyderabad experiences, Gireesh prefers to seek an alternate expression in colour and form other than the human figure.

            The artists experiments in colour, medium and the scale of the canvas widens the scope of his painting.  during the year 94-’95, Gireesh’s painting underwent drastic changes.  The artist no more employs the foreground-background distinction.  The undulating biomorphic forms dancing in the vast and infinite space evokes the experience of a musical composition.  The strong yet supple lines has a rhythm scaling up and down the picture plane.  The rhythmic movement spreads to all over the composition.  Ambiguity created through the hide and seek play of the forms is one of the notable features of these compositions. 

Gireesh avoids the use of narrative content in the later works.  Using the permutation and combination of the very limited motifs, he evokes infinite number of expressions of diverse nature.  To the young artist, content is no more the master of form and colour.  His reactions to the requirement of the composition such as the use of the red stripe of paper as the sail of a boat in a painting in black and grey paper to be very bold and dynamic.

            Gireesh creates transparent yet ambiguous space with the open planes and forms.   The photographer- painter keeps away his obsession for naturalism, chiaroscuro and photographic space for his photographic venture.  But the photographic film sheet continues to be one of the means of the artist’s expression.  Interesting enough, the textured surface of the prime coated film retains the glow of the fresh and vibrant colours.

Nandan / Art writer /Trivandrum 1996  


* ” GV Gireesh’s images are interesting and evocative, especially the black and white set. Across his work, he has drawn from everyday subjects—and from scenes which the layman misses or ignores as mundane but in which the photographer finds a moment worth capturing. Titled ‘Solace’ has striking, beautiful images. The series on women devotees draws on that vast reservoir of religious faith ever-present in India and is impressive. Since Gireesh is also a painter it means there is a heightened aesthetic sensibility and that shows in his choice of subjects, colours and the frames.” 

ARUNA CHANDARAJU / freelance feature writer / Hyderabad.


*  “Nice picture. I like the silhouette of the bench. And now I know what the view is like! When I went there a few days ago it was all mist, so there was no sign of the mountains! I will have to go back on a clearer day. I loved the temple though so it was worth the visit”.:

Eleanor Marriott / via blog


*   “The portrait of a tribal woman at Gokarna , and the image of the hair rolled up into a bun embellished with flowers, underline clearly the infinite choices and chances that await a photographer. Though Gireesh comes from the long tradition of the documentary, this somber study addresses important things which are most certainly taking place, the need for identifying and supporting the last of the tribal left in the wake of development and lack of reclamation. The root impulse in photography is the power of the portrait as well as the catching of light and shadow, then the image ceases to be a geographical curiosity and becomes instead a classical footnote in simplicity” ; read more

UMA NAIR / writer,critic / New Delhi


ARCHI TEXT- series, Profound Vanity

*  “Experimental photos Many of the photographs have been taken during his travels all over the country. What strikes one about his photographs is the vast space essayed in each work. The canvas is huge and the subject stands out, despite the canvas being equally attractive.  The use of black and white is especially appealing. Urban landscapes that tell the story of development and loss of serenity, views through the glass of a skyscraper, attempts to replicate nature in urban areas via vinyl hoardings, as on the Bangalore streets, a scene of fire, experimental photos in pitch darkness aided by a single dim light, and long exposure, make his show a delight.   Gireesh has proved that frames that do not hold nature or things of beauty can be equally appealing to a viewer in this show. ”    

PREMA MANMADHAN / writer / the Hindu / Kochin. 2010


*  ” RED ALERT:  Meanwhile, artist-photographer Gireesh GV cranks out vignettes from the day-to-day life he encounters on his sojourn as a photographer. Ask how the switch from photography to art happened, and GV says, “Photography happened much later, a way to bolster the artistic ambitions. I am a trained painter from the college of fine arts in Kerala. The reason I took up photography in 1997 was that there was a downturn and nobody was buying artworks.” His work includes a collection of 16 small format paintings in oil, titled Shock of the times, silence carved out, and enchanting ecstasy.”   Read more 

Express Features Service / New Delhi / Tue Feb 24 2009


*  “A skilled visualist (not just a photographer.) Brings in a very down-to-earth attitude making others instantly comfortable. Not averse to either physical hardship or taxing thinking jobs. Great person to work with” :  

Prashanth Hebbar via Linkedin


*  “Gireesh’s works, which are Expressionist in nature, capture the life and times of simple people through their intense portraits and the representation of day-to-day objects. The artist uses brush strokes the way a photographer clicks a camera randomly”:  

Johny ML / New Delhi based art critic & Curator / 2009 show catalogue


* ” The images on display are not only works of art but also a telling commentary on what defines modern India. The photographers, through their skilful arrangement of elements, have infused life into the images. Gireesh G.V’s Objects Desired and Discarded has amid rusted, useless objects, a picture of a woman’s body in a bikini.” : 

SRAVASTI DATTA / writer / The Hindu magazine


Yadagiriguda Temple in 1994.

* ” Who has seen Gandhi? 

Last week another attempt was made to interpret Gandhi for the current generation at Raj Bhavan. Inaugurated by Karnataka Governor H.R. Bharadwaj, this exhibition of contemporary Indian art titled ‘Who Has Seen Gandhi’ had a variety of objects on display.  An interesting contribution was photographer G.V. Gireesh’s image of a beggar whose shadow bears an amazing resemblance to Gandhi’s silhouette. Gireesh said: “I was just hanging around the Yadagirigutta temple in Andhra Pradesh when I saw this beggar ascending the steps. It was a single shot and the resemblance surprised me when I processed it.” : 

ARUNA CHANDARAJU / writer / The Hindu Magazine


Gireesh’s works, which are Expressionist in nature, capture the life and times of simple people through their intense portraits and the representation of day to day objects. The artist uses brush strokes the way a photographer clicks a camera randomly- it focuses and defocuses at the same time.

Johny ML / New Delhi / Feb 2009


*  “A love for cinematography and design is what characterises the work of Gireesh G V. ” : Aditya Nair speaks to him to find out more. An article about my few projects published in Better Photography Magazine.


*  ” Caught in culture’s tentacles Culture or rather development and its effect on humankind can be seen in  Gireesh G V’s photographs. This photojournalist certainly looks out from newsworthy angles yet some of the pictures stand out for their aesthetics. The play with light and colour on the frames that juxtapose nature and citadels of civilization lend more meaning through contrast. Human beings are hardly visible in many of his frames but you can feel their presence and the mood is poignant.    Stretching roofs of umpteen trains in a railway station against the backdrop of skyscrapers and clouds wear a grey tone. The sea has been captured at different hours of the day and you can sense the emotions of the people in each frame. A tattered scarecrow is on the verge of falling in a farmland. An eagle in flight, a worker busy with the construction of a bridge and a man atop a tall site remind you of the heights of culture and provoke your thoughts as to what the word really means. Cityscapes stare at you in a frame with a play on blue. Lights flicker from the powerful man-made creations. The glow from vehicles on a rainy night dazzle.   In another frame you see city life in full swing. Vehicles ply on the road and concrete jungles leave little space for greenery. Betwixt the two is a striking patch that takes you to a bygone era where architecture blends with nature. You can see nature being exploited in the name of civilization. The photographs have documented many touching moments on the road to civilization. ”  

Surekha / Writer / Indian Express / Kochi


* “Gireesh GV is a traveler and wanderer who would like to see things the way none sees them. Hence, in his works shadows become the real image and the objects and people that cast shadows become ‘shadows’. He sees life in the abandoned as if he incorporates meanings to meaningless words or words that have gone out of usage. Destiny and destinations is another concept that he would like to explore in his works, as people around him are constantly on the move towards unspecified destinations, as far as he is concerned.”:

Johny ML / Birla Academy catalogue / 2014


THE GIREESH GV I KNOW ” Over two decades ago when we were young, sitting in Gireesh’s apartment near Gol Market in Delhi, I made a promise to him. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I would seek the services of him, the ace photographer. Bearing witness were Sasi and Manoj Nair, his and mine closest friends and colleagues in Outlook. The magazine then bore imprint of the finest that Indian print journalism would offer, in design, visuals and content. The proverbial young energy in flow, with its editorial strengths emanating from the magisterial Vinod Mehta.

Gireesh is that fine light who shines through his camera. I would look forward to his credits and marvel at the controls he exhibited through his eyes over the shutter and the moment. For all the publications he has worked for. In this time I always look forward to his byline, well aware that both his individual snaps or a photo feature or within pages of a book, will leave me marvelling at his consistent, evolved feel for his art and craft, rigour and dedication.

Photo journalism often calls for a split, nano-second decision making of the subliminal moment where magic is present and may be recorded. Once the moment is gone the magic is lost. Forever. One thing that distinguishes Gireesh from his immediate tribe is the fact that he is a fine art student. His lensing and expressions are invariably sifted through an instinctive understanding of the frame and the composition within it. That is supremely aware of movement, colours, transience and then life itself. I was an admirer then and continue to be so now.

Having left the security of a fixed salary in 2000, I had started working as Karmic Design, a small firm with a proud, big heart. Initially the book assignments we worked on relied on visuals from the client themselves. In 2009-10 came the first opportunity where I could invite Gireesh to work on a monograph on which he was the principal photographer. Awakenings in BodhGaya was the culmination of our own pilgrimage to the site of Buddha’s enlightenment. Through each of the photograph that Gireesh carefully edited were borne elements that allowed us to forge a visual monograph rich and delicate, that elucidate all that is magnificent about BodhGaya.

Since then we have worked on a number of assignments together. On catalogs and books and theatre productions. In particular have come two books one on the heel of the other. First a book on Jajpur, the ancient capital of Odisha, and the second titled Beyond Barriers, a monograph that documents the indefatigable, splendid work of mobilisers, striving tirelessly for polio’s complete eradication in Western UP and in India at large. Both to us are marvellous well realised assignments that involve significant travel and rigour. In all our enterprise, me and Gireesh have worked well as a team which allow me to seek his company and natural born excellence. Always.

Gireesh likes to work alone on an assignment. As the book editor I have been relaxed enough for him to explore and capture moments solitary. For one because he would like to be out even before the crack of dawn. And then he works on till noon when the sun is up and the light become harsh and the shadows minimal. A brief rest later he is on his feet again to seek the outdoor and many a time he surprises me as he goes on to photograph till midnight. In the process he can climb several hills, walk long kilometres in deep cold and harsh heat, ill or not. Committed to the pressing deadlines and supreme performance. To top it all with heavy gear of a couple of cameras, multiple lenses, tripods and lights whenever required, which he insists on carrying himself. What he comes back is with great art, without fail.

Beyond the books on which we have worked together are the photographs he shoots for himself and keeps close to his chest or within his multiple hard drives. I am convinced I am yet to see some of his most profound works. However, in between we have worked on a maquette for a book of his titled Faith. For Gireesh is a traveller par excellence. Over time through his journey he has visited mosques, temples, gurudwaras, churches et al. He has captured moments of ecstasy, of solitude, of the divine and our dialog with creation and its magical overtures

From across India. Of faith that brings people together. That bridges divides and overcomes discrimination with ease, sophistication and finesse. Moments that are lit by grace, compassion and supreme trust in the often incomprehensible ways of the living reality. Often paradoxical and still, illuminated by beauty, subliminal. I personally would love to live for the day when this book of Gireesh, Faith, gets realised. Both as an exhibition and as a momentous coffee table book. I am convinced that the art project would be realised, apposite for the fractured, yet vital time we live in, soon.

Sanjog Sharan / Karmic Design

a light & shadow study at Sanjog’s place.…….

A sometime ago I went to meet Sanjog at his Greater Noida residence. as usual he welcome me with a cup of tea, we both had tea. he disappeared for a while. but the beautiful late afternoon sunlight didn’t allow me to sit idle….. Few images from his place. ENNUI


An extract From the book titled Vivan Sundaram is not a  Photographer’. The dance of the lighting operator/ photographer is reminiscent of Picasso drawing- a centaur, a man in motion, a bull, a vase of flowers- with a lit cigarette or small electric light, captured in 1949 in long exposure photographs. It is also differently reminiscent of the photographs of Jackson Pullock caught in motion by Hans Namuth while  making his drip paintings in 1950. The procedure, with Gireesh operating the technology and Sundaram constantly responding and assessing, is extemporaneous and synergetic, a double act. The action taking place in a small blackened room becomes a form of long exposure through which the flatbed yields unexpected and voluptuous textures, set off by the enveloping blackness, with flares of light pumping three-dimensionally back into the image. Invoking aerial archeology, the first works in the series – with their fractured objects occasionally in stark contrast to the cracked slab supporting them – explore in a fairly orderly way the relationship between geometry and the counterpoints of light. We see here clearly the interconnections between the terracotta sherds and the linear strings of light that formed the initial basis of the work.

At the book launch

In the transformative uses of oil and fire – of flooding and ignition – in the later works, the geometry and order of these earlier works give way to  formlessness, a quality of spreading and seeping as an outcome of the dangerous play of oil and fire. This disaggregation and un-formation correspond to Georges Bataille’s description, in his famous Critical Dictionary of 1929, of the informe – the formless – as that which is brought down in the world, rendered horizontal, dissolved. Declassified, the parts are at once (base) matter, and un-categorized, un-archived, un-archivable: anti archives. And indeed, the images themselves elude categorization. Conjuring both the harshness of the natural world and the smoking, ruined remains of human-caused catastrophe, these compositions raise the ghosts of much earlier works (Artist : Vivan Sundaram’s Signs of fire, 1984 and Engine Oil and Charcoal, 1991 ) in the elaboration of a technique of painting with light – is , like cinema, inherently  time bound. Or, as Gireesh puts it: ‘every shot is like a painting in time’ ( Gireesh GV, in conversation, November 2016). Gireesh quickly realized that what he calls an ‘organized environment’ would be necessary as the background for the improved compositions, initially photographing from a low angle and only later aerially, in a view that erases the horizon completely. For the ‘organized environment’, a small studio-within-the-studio was improvised, becoming a blackout room in which light drawings are performed. Such a procedure differs radically from the production of photographs in a darkroom. Experiencing with LED torches and 3-5 watt LED power lights was improvised to meet the demands of each particular composition. Sundaram and Gireesh also used fibre optic technology in the form of a light brush, an implement usually employed for the precise illumination of objects in still life and product photography. The LED torches were hand-held and used in spontaneous and sometimes risky performances of illumination, while the light brushes created the finest of lines as fine as 1 millimeter thick. ‘ fibre optics gave a sharp focus light [with which] to brush over the subject…. So I felt like I was painting with the light brush. It helped me to dodge the light on the surface’ ( Gireesh GV., email to the author, 6 march 2018). The process was organic and experimental. ‘I wanted to light up the tiny objects and to get the quality of the different materials’. Gireesh explains. The camera, used in time exposure mode, was mostly mounted above the ‘Still-life’, and operated by remote control through a 5-inch LED monitor. ‘We shot almost everything inside the dark room. We used long time exposures to light up the objects on the table (the still-life). I chose this method of lighting to get the fine details of the materials which Vivan used in his still life’ (ibid.).

With the mounted camera, Gireesh and Sundaram worked in extemporaneous and productive collaboration, responding to the constantly changing demands of improved lighting in the black room. Together, they attempted to find how fine a line could be achieved, how  dramatic an illumination. Further modifications took place in the editing process. 

From the book written By Ruth Rosengarten on artist Vivan Sundaram, titled ‘Vivan Sundaram is not a  Photographer. Published in 2017


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