Illustration of Life
Project info

Illustration of Life is a major body of work, which has been critically reviewed through publications, exhibitions, seminar and journal articles internationally spanning over 15 years of research since 1998. Illustration of Life was most recently exhibited at PHOTOINK Gallery in Delhi, India, September 2009. Kandhola began making work for Illustration of Life in 1996, a poignant and painful document of his father’s struggle with cancer leading up to the moment of his death.

Illustration of Life was published in 2002 as an artist’s monograph in collaboration with Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, UK; Arts Council England, Nottingham Trent University and Light Work, Syracuse, New York. The book contains a foreword by Kandhola and commissioned essays by Mark Sealy, Anne McNeill, Gary Hesse and Max Kandhola. These critically discuss the impact of the project in terms of the visual representation of the inescapable nature of human mortality and as an original comment on the shifting cultural aesthetic of the representation of death. Further extended essays and critical reviews by Simon Bainbridge, editor British Journal of Photography; Rhonda Wilson MBE, Director of Rhubarb; Professor Val Williams, curator & Director of Archive centre, London College of Communication; Chris Arnot G2 Arts Guardian.

Max Kandhola works within an established pictorial and symbolic tradition of photography, a medium itself regarded as that which figures death in its mortification of life. His use of the medium is forensic, his working process a reflexive gesture with respect to the nature of the photographic trace. Kandhola’s work is also a personal document. He observes the final four hours of his father’s death; collects fragments of hair, blood tissues, urine, and photographs them. His text discusses aspects of Sikh ritual and religion as a process and observation in the representation of death and it’s aftermath, in juxtaposition to the images often brutal, anthropological recording of the fact of death.