Growing up in France, photographer Vasantha Yogananthan’s Sri Lankan father would read him stories from the ancient Hindu poem the Ramayana, following the life of Rama, the legendary prince of Kosala Kingdom.
Thousands of years later, it’s stories of heroism, duty and love are still retold and performed in religious festivals and annual ceremonies all over India.
Drawing inspiration from the impact of this omnipresent cultural myth on everyday Indian life, Vasantha has retraced Rama’s legendary route from north to south India to for A Myth Of Two Souls, a photographic reimagining of the classic tale that sits somewhere between documentary, fiction, mythology and reality.
Using theatrically staged portraits, the series interweaves fictional and historical stories, old and new traditions. As well as large colour prints, black and white photographs have been painstakingly hand-painted – a technique traditionally reserved for household portraits of wealthy patrons but subverted in Vasantha’s photographs.
Working exclusively in analogue, using large or medium format cameras that intentionally slow down the creative process, Vasantha’s projects are often developed over long periods of time, harnessing a distinctive colour palette based on natural light.
Vasantha Yogananthan: A Myth of Two Souls is on show until 6 January 2019. at The Photographers’ Gallery, London.