You have certainly seen once in your life the fabulous and dark, black and white portraits of Italian aristocrats photographed very still in their palazzos ? Over the last 30 years, photographer Patrick Faigenbaum has accustomed us to dramatic images. After winning the Fondation Cartier Bresson Prize in 2013, he took the time to travel to India six times and came back with approximately fifty colour and black and white images. Two exhibitions celebrate him in Paris at the moment and his pictures will travel to the Aperture Foundation in New York in mid September.
At Fondation Cartier Bresson, a little house tucked into an alleyway near Montparnasse, two small and low ceiling rooms contain each 16 works of the exhibition Kolkata/Calcutta. The atmosphere is intimate, and one is immediately overwhelmed by the beauty of the shots and by a special serenity floating over the show. I particularly loved the watermelons photographed as if they were human beings. You almost see them move. On his first trip, Faigenbaum met an Indian artist and embroiderer, Shreyasi Chatterjee, and he decided to concentrate his projecct on her family, house/studio and on their surroundings.
The generous Prize of the Fondation Cartier Bresson (35 000€) gave him the time needed in India to understand what was going on and he worked on the dual personality of Calcutta (under the British Empire) and Kolkata of today. It is interesting to see the difference between the Cartier Bresson hanging and that of Nathalie Obadia’s beautiful gallery in the Marais. There, the walls are high and very luminous, thanks to the glass roof and it gives a sort of cold, intimidating light to the pictures. Only three are common to the two shows and it is an entirely different experience. At the opening, many fans were running around congratulating the artist who was a pensionnaire of the Villa Medicis in the 80’s and still teaches at the Beaux Arts in Paris. Jean François Chevrier wrote a beautiful book on this Indian adventure. (Galerie Nathalie Obadia, 18 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, Fondation Cartier Bresson, 2 impasse Lebouis, until July 26 and Aperture Foundation, New York, from September 18 to October 29)
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