Leena Kejriwal - Leading Indian Photographer  
 

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them”Elliott Erwitt

PROFILE

Introduction

The Artist, Leena Kejriwal has walked the streets of old Calcutta and discovered Elliott Erwitt’s ‘interesting’ and represented them in the wrap of her own unique sensibilities. A decade of experience, little and small have influenced the sensitive and accomplished Photography Artist –Leena Kejriwal

Background

Leena enjoys prestigious professional recognition through her Licentiate membership of the British Institute of Professional Photography (LBIPP) and Professional membership of the Photographers Guild of India (PGI).

In 2002, Bilkey Llinas Design, a U.S. based, leading interior art consultancy firm selected a large collection of her prints for all the guest rooms at the Hyatt Regency in Mumbai and Kolkata.

She worked with the Divya Chaya Trust (an organization committed to the upliftment of the girl child) to commemorate two decades of their service to society. They hosted an exhibition at Nehru Centre, London (October, 2004), where she participated with the likes of Barbara Lloyd, the renowned British photographer.

In the same year Leena’s prints were amongst the top 10 selected at the exhibition, hosted by the PGI, a forum presenting the best photographers in India. Other laurels include her selection as one of the Super Six, the Brand ambassadors for Fujifilm in 2005.

On home ground, Leena was invited to visit Hampi for participation in an all India art camp to capture the phase of lingering history there, (a Karnataka State Tourism Corporation initiative). She worked with Apne Aap Worldwide, (April 2006) an NGO working against human trafficking, where she created a photographic installation “Spaces, no faces” with her images which captured the lives of women living in their spaces.

In December of 2005, Leena was deputed for participation in France’s Indo-French “Artists-in-Residence” program initiated by the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in India. A solo exhibition of her works traveled across the country from July 2006 to May 2007, as part of the innovative cultural dialogue between the two countries.

Leena has always enjoyed giving dimensions to her passion and in this respect has enjoyed working on editorials for international magazines like Geo, Intersection (U.K), and others. Her assignment as the principal photographer for the book conceptualized by Rajiv Sethi based on Shiva in Mumbai (a Asian Heritage Foundation) was a prestigious one.

Leena has created a photography documentation of six craft based cottage industries in villages around Kolkata, for a book called “In the shadows” by Payal Mohanka in 2006. This was followed by the launch of her seminal production “Calcutta: Repossessing the City” (published by Om Books International) foreword by Tapati Guha Thakurta, designed by Bina Sarkar Ellias, editor and publisher of Gallerie Magazine, (February 2007). The book is on the top five non-fiction list on the city even today.

As principal photographer for the book entitled, ‘Flurys: The Cake That Walked’ (launched by the Apeejay Group), written by Bachi Kakaria, Leena captured the life at Flurys, Kolkata’s landmark Swiss confectionery, since pre-independence. Her Babu Bibi series created as visuals for a life style event in the city, depicting indulgence, were instantly popular and were a part of the Spring Southeast Asian Auction at Sotheby’s in March 2008.

Has worked with activist Ruchira Gupta on Human Trafficking and has captured spaces for Apne Aap Worldwide, her NGO, working for the upliftment of the girl child. The issue is the common thread in her exhibitions and artwork since 2010. Has completed a residency in Public Art “ Reconfiguring Sites” at the School of Visual Arts in New York, in the summer of 2013.

Recently held a photography workshop for the children of Hamari Muskan, an ngo working with the vulnerable children of one of the oldest red light districts of the city. She is continuing to mentor the adolescent group.

Exhibitions

  • 2003: Kalikatha -Through the Lens, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
  • 2003:A Still Symphony - Visuals, the India International Centre, New Delhi.
  • 2004:: A Life of its Own-Visuals, the Oxford Bookstore Gallery, Kolkata & Mumbai.
  • 2005:: Fuji Super Six Exhibition, organized by Fuji film in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Kochi, Chennai.
  • 2005:Bengal & Beyond, organized by Art & Soul at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, curated by Siddharth Tagore.
  • 2006: Famous Faces of Kolkata, organized by Times of India for the Kolkata festival at the Town Hall.
  • 2006: On the Streets Of Paris, showcasing her works, done as an “Artist in residence” in France exhibited in Trivandrum, Madras, Pune, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh and Kolkata.
  • 2007: Monsoon Show, curated by Himanshu Verma of the Red Earth gallery, in Delhi and Mumbai.
  • 2007: Fine Art Photography, group show organized by Gallery Sanskriti, Kolkata.
  • 2007: The Other Side, group show curated by Ajay Rajgarhia, Wonderwall, in New Delhi.
  • 2008: Click, Contemporary Photography in India at Vadhera Art Gallery, New Delhi.
  • 2008: Harvest Show, annual group show at Arushi Arts.
  • 2009: Behind the Lens, group show at Mahua Art Gallery, Bangalore.
  • 2009: GO TAKE A WALK! group show at the Apparao Galleries in Chennai.
  • 2009: Sotheby South East Asian Art spring auction.
  • 2009: Group show at The Shrine Empire
  • 2010: East City: Kolkata before the campaign, a large photography installation, curated by Shaheen Merali, Berlin based independent curator at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata.
  • 2010: Her work is never done, curated by Bose Krishnamachari, at the BMB Gallery, Mumbai.
  • 2010: Harvest Show, annual group show at Arushi Arts.
  • 2010: Tribute to Photography, group show at the Jamia Milia University, New Delhi.
  • 2011: Entropic Sites curated by Shaheen Merali, at Shrine Empire gallery, New Delhi.
  • 2011: I Saw That Which Remained Unseen, curated by Shaheen Merali, Azad Gallery, Tehran, Iran.
  • 2012: When Violence Becomes Decadent, curated by Shaheen Merali, at Friese Museum. Berlin
  • 2012: The Blue Room, Stainless Gallery, New Delhi.
  • 2013 When Violence Becomes Decadent, curated by Shaheen merali, ACC Galerie Weimer.

Awards and Credits

Leena has many achievements in her portfolio some of which are enumerated below.

  • Presented a series of photographs at the Exhibit A, held by the PGI. Her print was among the top 10 selected among all the Indian photographers from a forum of the best in India in 2002 & 2004.
  • Bilkey Llinas Design, a U.S. based leading interior art consultancy firm has selected a large collection of her prints for all the guest rooms at the Hyatt Regency in Mumbai and Kolkata.
  • Leena Kejriwal was one of the Super Six, the brand ambassadors for Fujifilm for the year 2005.
  • She was sent to France on their Indo-French “Artists-in-Residence” program initiated by the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in India in December, 2005 and an exhibition of her work there was showcased in the year 2006 as a part of the innovative cultural dialogue between the two countries.

Books and Publications

Leena Kejriwal has contributed to various books and other publications. Some of her noteworthy works are mentioned below:

  • She has designed the book cover for the Sahitya Akademi Award winning novel “Kalikatha via bypass” by Alka Saraogi and “Shesh Kadambari” and “Koi Baat Nahin” by the same author.
  • Leena Kejriwal has captured in her photographs the life at Flurys (A Swiss confectionery, which has been a landmark in Kolkata since pre-independence) for The Apeejay Group. The author for the book was eminent journalist Bachi Karkaria.
  • Leena has done the photography for a book based on quaint craft based cottage industries in villages around Kolkata.
  • She has worked as the principal photographer for a book based on Shiva in Mumbai conceptualized by Rajiv Sethi of the Asian Heritage Foundation.

Other Works

  • Leena has worked with the Divya Chaya Trust (an organization committed for the upliftment of the girl child) to commemorate two decades of their service to society. The exhibition was held in Nehru Centre, London in October, 2004. Barbara Llyod, renowned British photographer, was the other participant.
  • Right from the very beginning Leena has lent her expertise to “Save the Girl Child” issue. While working for this cause she has joined hands with various NGO’s and has worked on a number of gender related issues like female education, trafficking or female infanticide.
  • Leena has worked on a photographic collection for Apne Aap, an NGO which deals with human trafficking. Specially in their center in the Araria, North Bihar with the Nat community. She has shown her photographic installation based on this work.
  • Has also worked with New light, NGO working with the sex workers in Kolkata’s historical Kalighat area. Capturing the good work they are doing in the heart of the district.