"Colors of India" represents just a small part of a lifetime of experiences Becom has had capturing the vivid use of color in cultures around the world, to show how color is universally used for function, decoration and symbolism.
For more than three decades, Becom has been documenting people's lives and the painted environment they live in from Mexico to Morocco, and Guatemala to Greece. In 2008 he spent five months traveling in northern India – from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan, capturing the streets of Jodhpur and Varanasi and the architecture of Jaisalmer and Ajmer. ... Becom's photos aren't just about documentation. His focus is anthropological, based on a desire to know what color reveals about a culture, whether religious, social or spiritual, as well as how it affects the life of its people. While Becom approaches his subjects as a man with many talents — a painter and photographer with training in architecture — his work has been centered on color.
"I painted and drew from an early age," says Becom. "Am I a colorist? Absolutely. That's my main focus."
"India is just synonymous with color," he says. "Certain colors are associated with certain gods or certain castes."
What Becom found, he says, thrilled him. "There were dirt floor huts, fresh ground spices and the friendliest people. I had some of the best meals of my life there."
"I don't have a degree in anthropology and no formal education in photography," Becom says. "I do call myself a visual anthropologist though. I consider my photographs to be documentary. The colors, subjects, and details are captured exactly as found. However, I do control and transform by limiting what, when, and how I shoot."
That sense of the found image is seen in works like "Tiger Wall," taken in the town of Pokaran, in the state of Rajasthan. It shows a blue/green door to the right and a hand-painted tiger's head on the wall to its left. How or why that tiger's head exists is not explained, yet it is a striking image that hits you as a surprise, as if you just turned a corner and encountered some beautiful street art.
All of the 22 images on view affect you like paintings — works of art that occur between the figurative/representational and the abstract. Figures do appear in Becom's work, but they seem oblivious of the camera, just characters in front of Becom's colored facades.