In the vibrant city of Hyderabad, where the din of urban life and the tranquility of creativity coexist, a unique initiative has taken shape, captivating the hearts and minds of its residents. Aptly named Hyderabad on Wheels, this groundbreaking endeavor has transformed the mundane into the extraordinary, bridging the gap between art and public spaces. With a touch of artistic brilliance and the spirit of exploration, this initiative has reimagined the way people engage with visual storytelling, all thanks to the visionary mind of Aquin Mathews, a name that resonates with the city’s photography community and beyond. Aquin, born and raised in Kerala, is the founder and director of the Indian Photo Festival (IPF), India’s longest-running international photography festival.
In a city where the busy roads and immersive galleries intermingle, Hyderabad on Wheels seamlessly blends the two realms, challenging traditional notions of exhibition spaces. Stepping inside this rolling gallery feels more like being in an exhibition space than being on a bus. Upon entering, one is greeted by a pearly white interior, with a panoramic cityscape adorning the walls—a testament to the rich heritage and bustling street life of Hyderabad. The carpet beneath our feet, a subtle gray, seems ready to spring forth, accommodating the very tires that make this gallery a moving masterpiece. Here, each photograph acts as a window, an escape into the soul of the city, with its landscapes, culture, streets, and people captured through the lenses of talented artists.
Hyderabad on Wheels marks a pivotal moment in Aquin's artistic journey. Collaborating with the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) in December 2022, he has revolutionized the way art is experienced. Breaking free from the confines of traditional gallery spaces, the wheels of this mobile exhibition traverse the city, reaching people from all walks of life. Aquin's vision is clear—to bring art to those who may not have the luxury of visiting galleries and to ignite a spark of inspiration in the hearts of the young minds that roam these streets. Government schools and colleges become unexpected stops for this gallery on wheels, spreading artistic enlightenment to those hungry for creative expression.
Aquin Mathews, in an interview with Indulge Express
However, Aquin's contributions to the world of photography extend far beyond Hyderabad on Wheels. As the founder of IPF, he has nurtured an ecosystem that empowers Indian photographers. Through exhibitions, grants, mentorships, and more, IPF has become a beacon of hope and opportunity for artists across the country. The festival has not only provided a platform for professionals and aspiring photographers but has also kindled a love for the art form among photography enthusiasts and the general public. Through discussions, screenings, and workshops, IPF enriches the understanding and appreciation of photography as a powerful medium of storytelling.
Aquin's dedication to photography goes beyond just organizing festivals and exhibitions. He actively advocates for the democratization of the art form. In a world increasingly dominated by smartphones, Aquin celebrates the accessibility and democratizing nature of mobile phone photography. He believes that it is not the gear that defines a photograph's beauty but rather the photographer's vision and intention. To prove this point, Aquin published a photo book capturing stunning images shot exclusively with mobile phones, challenging preconceived notions of what constitutes "real" photography.
With an insatiable thirst for innovation, Aquin has also explored the possibilities of drones as a photographic tool. His project, utilizing a drone camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes of Hyderabad and its surroundings, offers viewers a fresh perspective from the skies. The play of colors, contrasts, and shapes seen from an aerial angle provides an immersive experience that captivates the imagination and transports the audience to a different realm.
As Aquin continues to leave an indelible mark on the world of photography, his dedication to nurturing artistic communities and breaking boundaries remains unwavering. Through Hyderabad on Wheels, he has turned the city's streets into a gallery, touching the lives of countless individuals who encounter its rolling charm. Aquin's passion for photography and his desire to create avenues for artistic expression have reshaped the artistic landscape of Hyderabad and beyond.
So, the next time you find yourself strolling through the streets of Hyderabad, keep an eye out for a gallery on wheels—a moving testament to the power of art and the boundless imagination of Aquin Mathews. Step aboard, immerse yourself in the visual symphony of Hyderabad on Wheels and allow the city's essence to seep into your soul. In this mobile sanctuary of art, Aquin's creative vision and Hyderabad's spirit intertwine seamlessly.