Bernard Faucon throws humans together with mannequins in his surrealistic photographs

February 6th, 2009 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) Famous French photographer Bernard Faucon throws humans together with mannequins in his surrealistic photographs. But both the subjects are real to him, says the ace lensman, who is exhibiting in India for the first time after 250 international shows.His works are poetic, personal and metaphysical - where dolls and children jostle for space amid toys, nature, schoolbooks and props. He uses empty swathes of the sky and open spaces to etch into sharp relief the complex compositions of his figures.

“I discovered photography through mannequins at a shop and mastered how to make them lifelike. When you photograph, the first experience is of reception; and if one uses mannequins, one can give it life. That is the power of photography,” Faucon told IANS.

A “Retrospective Collection” of his works is on display at the Galerie Romain Rolland at the Alliance Francaise in the capital Feb 3-12.

“The children in my photographs are the memories of my childhood. Life was beautiful. Childhood was a crowd of ideas - of freedom, vacations and playgrounds that resembled war zones post playtime,” Faucon explained.

The children in his photographs have a ravaged look about them while the mannequins are almost eerie in their poise.

Born in Provence in 1950, Faucon started clicking his subjects in 1976. Nearly two decades later in 1995, he gave it up. “I stopped photography because I had finished expressing all that I had to express. The relationship with the image has changed. The images used in modern work do not have any meaning,” he said.

Faucon is now a snapshot photographer. He shoots with his digital camera and “makes them meaningful” with attractive texts. He has compiled a book of his shots, “Ete 2550″.

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Tribute to Ravi Varma

A bunch of gorgeous women in traditional south Indian attire and fashion accessories of the late 19th century when Raja Ravi Varma painted his subjects have been shot in the backdrop of period sets to recreate 12 of the master artist’s works.

The exhibition, “A Photographic Tribute to Raja Ravi Varma” by advertising filmmaker Rohit Chawla, was held in the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre.

The women, who resemble Varma’s muses, include sitar exponent Anoushka Shankar, model Feroze Gujral and Chawla’s wife.

“I chose 12 of the most gorgeous women I met and decided to give them a makeover to suit Raja Ravi Varma’s subjects. The photographs are a comment on the contemporary woman,” Chawla told IANS.

Raja Ravi Varma, who hailed from Kerala and died in 1906, was the first artist to cast Indian mythological characters in their natural surroundings using European realism. His works were a precursor to Indian calendar art and film art of sets and posters.

Chawla’s sets are handcrafted with a special finish for a rural and indigenous look.

The large format photographs, a presentation of the Byrd Group, are documents harking back to an era when fashion was princely.

“I was tired of shooting commercial fashion photographs. The models in Philip Tracey hats did not make sense. I felt it was time to go back to the old masters because Raja Ravi Varma’s art is a documentation of a period when there was no photography. I wanted to show them to the world in a contemporary avatar,” he said. The show will travel to the US.

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Prehistoric relics, now auction art

The natural history sales organised for the past three years by global auctioneer Christie’s in Paris have become an international benchmark and are also regarded as artistic specimens.

The first event in 2007 generated in excess of one million euros and set 12 world records, while the second sale in 2008 brought in 2.2 million euros setting 11 new world records.

The triceratops skeleton, which fetched a price of 592,250 euros, was particularly memorable, a Christie’s communiqué from Hong Kong said this week.

With a selection of over 100 unique lots, the third year of the natural history sale in April promises to have new surprises in store. Better than a museum bestiary, the sale will feature rare scenes of prehistoric life.

More than simple skeletons of megafauna, which disappeared tens of millions of years ago, this sale presents truly exceptional scenes of fossilised prehistoric life.

One of the most terrifying pieces is without a doubt the giant jaw of the Carcharodon Megalodon shark. This oldest of carnivorous sharks could reach up to 13 metres in length. The reconstructed cartilage jaw has 168 fossilised teeth and measures 2.20 m high when open. It is estimated at around 150,000 euros.

A complete sabre-toothed tiger skeleton, 23.5 to 53 million years old, in the process of hunting an oreodont, the natural herbivorous prey of this impressive carnivore, is another highlight. It is estimated at 80,000 - 120,000 euros.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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