"I dropped out of school when I was eighteen to pursue a life in art and design and got involved in India’s first design collective People Tree in Delhi. Working with them for seven years, I explored various mediums and techniques within art and design ranging from hand painting on t-shirts, mastering the art of Shibori, natural dying and printing, jewelry-making, paper-making and more.
Photography has always been an integral part of my creative process. My endeavour is always to give something which is dying or forgotten a second life.
Most things go unnoticed, its that one passing moment which becomes a must for me - to bring it alive again and in some cases pay my last respects.
My work is very intuitive - I almost know where to venture to discover something unseen. Images are short stories for me - they have many chapters and speak in different languages. My photography is not only about freezing a moment, it's about living that moment."
Shahid Datawala’s photographic compositions do not always begin or end within the frame. By shooting a part of the whole, Datawala leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination. A perfectionist by nature, and unique in his approach to photography, Datawala does not capture a moment, but instead preconceives a shot in his head, composes the frame for it, and then waits for his idea to happen. The artist is known to have waited over three hours to capture that perfect shot.
Based in Mumbai, Datawala is heavily influenced by the city’s underbelly and rich tradition of art deco. He is also fascinated with the idea of renewal and remaking, and manifests an unpretentious, almost childlike view of the world in his art. A bold, quirkiness permeates all disciplines of his work giving him a inimitable style that has garnered him many honors including the Edida Designer of the Year award by Elle Décor in 2010.
2015 'I once was alive' at Gallery 7, Mumbai
2010 'Where the city rests' at Matthieu Foss Gallery, Mumbai
2008 'Shadowboxing’, presented by Tasveer Arts at Art Motif, New Delhi
2006 'Dress Circle’ at Foss -Gandhi and Jehangir Nicholson Gallery, National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai
2001 'A Walk with Pillars' at Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi
INTERNATIONAL & GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2010 'Where Three Dreams Cross' at the White Chapel Gallery, London
2010 'By George' at the Alliance Franciase, New Delhi
2009 'Caturday is Cleaning Day' at The Loft Gallery, Mumbai
2008 ‘Click! Contemporary Photography from India’ at Vadehra Gallery, New Delhi, and Grosvenor Vadehra, London
2008 ‘India: Public Paces, Private Spaces Contemporary Photography and Video Art’ at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota
2008 'Post Visual World' at the Priyashri Art gallery, Mumbai
2007 ‘India: Public Paces, Private Spaces Contemporary Photography and Video Art’, at the Newark Museum, New Jersey
2007 'Dress Circle' at the Metropolis, Rome, in 2007
“Cinema spaces have always fascinated me; Liberty Hall, like the rest of Mumbai’s Art Deco cinemas, is a dying breed. Once a glittering star, its sophistication and glamour have faded in time. Inversely though, with the same passage of time, its historical importance has only increased. I shot this series relying entirely on the natural light of the cinema and used greater exposure times in order to accurately replicate ‘the warmth’ and atmosphere. I wanted to try and capture the sense of a life lived in the public eye and hint at much beyond that which the eye can see, leaving one with a lingering sense of loss rather than palpable presence."
"This series centres exclusively around places and pieces of furniture where Bombay city rests. The otherwise so ordinary and recognizable city centre is reduced to a stage set piece which distinguishes itself from other everyday objects and how these objects have long since established their own set places in their respective landscapes. In this series, I set out to find more such nooks and corners where the city pauses."