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“Mystic Mountains” by Heidi Sabra in IRMT

“Is it a photograph or a painting?” was wondering one of the visitors of the photo-art exhibition by a retired designer from Germany Heidi Sabra that opened in the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Naggar on September 29, 2018. There is no unequivocal answer since photo-art, as the word itself suggests, combines the elements of both.

The week-long exhibition titled “Mystic Mountains” is Ms. Sabra’s homage to Naggar, which she has been visiting off and on since 1996, and Nicholas Roerich whom she calls the “Unrivalled Master of Raga Pahari” and whose mountain landscapes greatly inspired her own creative expression. The exhibition displays Ms. Sabra’s photographs of the mountain ranges and summits surrounding Naggar, including the iconic Mt. Gepang. Once the photographs are taken, Ms. Sabra works on them using a variety of filters to alter and deepen their colours – the process that may take days at a stretch but in the end brings quite unusual results which express the photo-artist’s personal and unique vision of the mountains captured in various seasons and times of day. “These photographs do not depict the so-called “objective reality.” They are reflections of my feelings aroused by contemplating the local landscape,” explains Ms. Sabra.

The opening ceremony was accompanied by live music performed by the local sitar player Piyush Kumar whose consummate rendition of Raga Megh associated with rainy season created a very special atmosphere and made the effect of the exhibited works yet more profound. The exhibition of Himalayan photo paintings that are supposed to be not merely seen but experienced proved a veritable celebration of the natural beauty of Naggar that for several decades fuelled the creativity of the Roerichs. The opening ceremony was attended by the Indian and Russian curators of the IRMT, a number of Naggar residents, and multiple guests from Russia, Germany, France, Belgium and Belarus.