Rameshwar Broota is a fine artist and that would it seems be enough credential to explore other mediums and the message. This, his first show of photographs is intriguing. There are aspects to the show currently on at Sakshi Gallery which tie in the painter Broota with the photographer, the metaphors of man and man-made re surface.

The exhibition as a whole is graphic and impressive, impeccable prints, clean mats and aseptic white frames retain prints that go all the way up to 130”. One can forgive the bruises some of the prints have received in transit.

There seem to be at least three types of images and the connections between them seem tenuous and fragile at best. The strongest work is where Broota goes back to his flaccid phallus though he seems to have lost it in one of his self portraits. Where through digital fragmentation an illusory piece of hirsute skin lands up in the receiving hand at the crotch. Penis envy takes on a whole new meaning. The machine gun toting soldier morphs into a phallic canon’s plunger.

The finest and most powerful image is the one with ducts sucking in a genuflecting Broota. The diptych is effectively crafted, digital skullduggery not intervening in the illusion. The negative space, graphic diagonals, textures and subtle colours of skin and tin are gorgeous. In the same room, is an image of a man wearing an ominous, Hitlerian, uniform in the foreground of an a deserted beach, with Panzer like impressions on the sand, scrutinising a swimmer who has just emerged dripping, with sexual innuendo. There is the viewer, the voyeur and the spectator all being examined. Censorship is implied in one of the images with a braided cable stay running diagonally across the portrait but the cable is pixillated and is so amateurishly cut and pasted to the point of discredit.

Broota is fascinated with his fingers, he shoves his phalanges into all sorts of orifices playfully making flaccid penis’ and if that was not enough producing mirror effects of the same. The photographs with the stretched gummy fingers are just plain trite and woefully executed.

The urban portraits from travels abroad with partner explore the surreal. The man in aviator glasses suddenly at the horizon develops a flurry of skirts, this sort of Ardhanareshwara is old hat and juvenile.  Most of the portraits are completely avoidable. Then out of blue pops a pink pony in a meadow. The role of the gallerist/curator is not evident.

Digital image manipulation is an awesomely powerful tool in the hands of the deft and creative. Where it is best used is when it is least noticeable. But where it shows up is when it intervenes in the process and the practice. The image at the entrance of a ships bulkhead door is a clean, white abstraction of fresh paint and haiku shapes of handles and hinges. Whether the saturation tool or contrast sliders were twiddled is immaterial, the image is glorious for just being.

Broota has concern for a universal ideal of what might constitute ‘quality, without which a work of art ceases to exist’. From at least the time of Fiboacci to Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, philosophers and mystics like Thomas Aquinas have alluded to Integrity as being that corner stone.

There is a old adage that is familiar to photographers, when in doubt, blow your images up, size does matter.

Many fine artists today think they can get away with dabbling with a new medium in the hope of being a renaissance person. But especially with the established, the scrutiny should be more exacting and demanding.