What’s On Chandigarh: Art of the Arch, a photography exhibition, celebrates an architectural element vital to our ancient monuments

What: Art of the Arch, Thresholds of Time, Space and Architecture, by Rajnish Wattas, is a photographic celebration of an architectural element vital to our ancient monuments. Organized by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi in association with the Government Museum and Art Gallery, the exhibition showcases nearly 50 examples of diverse arch designs, documented by Wattas, over years of architectural photography, from around the world.

The various structural and aesthetic aspects of the arch – a “basic element” of architecture in historic times – take us on a journey to discover the vast range of ingenuity, craftsmanship and creativity that contributed to its production. “Unfortunately, it is now almost extinct in its true form, but often reproduced as an ornament to break up the rigid monotony of orthogonal geometry of forms and spaces in modern architecture, explains Wattas, former director of Chandigarh College of Architecture, architectural critic and director of Chandigarh. specialist in modern heritage. A distinguished photographer, he has published hundreds of photographs in the form of travelogues and photographic essays, documenting from time to time the architecture, the cities and the public art.

Rajnish Wattas

The arch, Wattas reflects, is an architectural acrobat. Bending, standing and jumping through spans – it defines the transition, entrance, exit, openings and openings of buildings. You enter into them, to emerge into a new space. The innovation of the arch as a structural device to span openings has had a significant impact on the evolution of architecture throughout history. Much more efficient and with more possibilities than the previous post and lintel system, the arch opened up new vistas of architectural achievement and ambition.

The real inventors and users of bows were the Romans. They used the structural innovation of the arch as the defining element of their buildings. Arches placed in a row became arcades, allowing bridges over rivers or aqueducts to bring water to cities. Placed in layers, they became vaults and, when encased, became squinches to support the domes above.

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From the Roman use of the arch, the technology spread to Western and Eastern architectures over time. In the West, from the Gothic to the Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque periods, it is an integral part of monuments; reborn as neoclassical and modernist styles of the 19th and 20th centuries. In India, the arch found its place in Mughal and Rajasthani architecture. As the artisans of both were the same, they enriched each style, infusing elements from one into the other. “While the use of arch, vault and dome in Rajput buildings originated from Islamic structures, the characteristics of jaallis, chattris, jharokas and chajjahs were woven into the Mughal architecture of the ancient” , Wattas said.

The arch has evolved over time from a pure structural innovation to an aesthetic element adorned with numerous decorative patterns, moldings and variations of shapes and forms. And Wattas’ photographs give you a glimpse into the world of arches.

When and where: The exhibition is on until June 2, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, sector 10.

Tracey L. Sweeney