This photo is accompanied by a haiku that reads ‘Lunch Break, A cool dessert, Easing the spirit’. MANY Malaysians have only heard of the country’s natural beauty in the early days from their older relatives, but photographer Eric Peris has managed to capture those images in his exhibition, titled “Namo”. The 76-year-old photographer had put together images taken from 1975 to 1980 and presents images of places from yesteryear, some of which no longer exist. From the images of a table with condiments on a moving train, to the now missing sand dunes in Puchong, each photograph is accompanied by a haiku written by Peris himself. He aptly named the exhibition “Namo” which means homage in the Pali language in honour of his late parents. A friend, Cyril Pereira described Peris during the launch as a very private man who lets his images talk for him.

Every photo has a story: Peris (left) explaining a photo of an orang utan to a guest during his exhibition titled Namo.

Every photo has a story: Peris (left) explaining a photo of an orang utan to a guest during his exhibition titled Namo.
His parents, said Pereira, played a big role in the way Peris perceived images and the photographer had dedicated several works in their name. According to him, after the demise of Peris’ father in 1975, the latter put together a book called Tin Mine Landscapes in memory of him. He had spent time exploring the country from 1975 to 1980 looking for images on landscapes inspired by his artist father. During the same time, he worked on Images of Gitanjali, where he selected 30 verses from Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize-winning literary work Gitanjali and dedicated it to his mother, his guiding light. “Peris learnt from example and his parents told him to find his own images and not copy someone else’s version or he would not be a true artist,” said Pereira who later launched the exhibition. Taking his parents’ advice to heart, Peris had dedicated his life to photography and has held 36 exhibitions including Namo that is being showcased at the Sutra Gallery, in Persiaran Titiwangsa 3. Peris said his mother always told him to interpret what he saw and find values in the images he captured.
Turning over a new leaf: A photo of lily pads in Peris’ home in Puchong taken in the mid-1970s

Turning over a new leaf: A photo of lily pads in Peris’ home in Puchong taken in the mid-1970s.

“Each photograph represents a value that is important to me, I will not change my style to make other people happy. We must be able to accept that some people will like it and others will not,” he said. For him, the values in the images should interact with the photographer and tell a story. Peris is also a firm believer in roaming around to get footage instead of waiting for sheer luck. He still travels all over Malaysia finding inspiration and urges others to do the same. “We need to step outside to see life in a different way. You may not be able to see it today but when you travel to the outskirts you tend to appreciate the bounties of nature,” he said. In fact, the hardcore photographer uses public transportation to traverse the countryside, sometimes on trains, sometimes in buses, and other times hitching a ride on bullock carts. Photographers, he added, should take pictures every day, at least 10 frames per day but insisted that they should not overshoot in the age of digital cameras. Guests at the opening were equally inspired including three young women, Rachel Chan, Piaree Rajandran and Siew Sue Ann. Piaree described the exhibition as being local and was duly impressed when she found out Peris’ age. Chan said they were inspired to take the train to discover places in the future. “I think the first stop for us might be Sekinchan and we will definitely be taking photographs,” she said in reference to Peris’ pictures of Sekinchan. “Namo” will be showcased until May 25 at the Sutra Gallery, No 12 Persiaran Titiwangsa 3, Kuala Lumpur. Opening hours are from 10am to 5pm but guests are encouraged to make appointments (03-40211092).