The Galerie Nathalie Obadia is pleased to present “Kolkata/Calcutta”, the second solo exhibition of Patrick Faigenbaum in its gallery in Paris after “Santurlussurgiu” in October 2008.
In 2013 the artist won the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, which enabled him to carry out a project on the city of Calcutta, the capital of Bengal and the British Indian Empire, during six trips. “It was a question of avoiding the image of the eternal or picturesque India, though without focusing on an equally caricatured image of modernization”, explains Patrick Faigenbaum, who made his first trip to India in 1995, before the country’s economic explosion.
A set of fifteen new photographs will be presented at the Galerie Nathalie Obadia in an exhibition that will dialogue with the large show dedicated to his work at the Fondation Cartier-Bresson from 13 May to 26 July 2015. Portraits, group shots and scenes of daily life are included in this subjective representation of the Calcutta that Faigenbaum experienced and interiorized, with particular emphasis on still lifes. “A still life is a model of landscape, and the landscape is a still life on the grand scale*”, comments the historian and art critic Jean-François Chevrier in the book that accompanies the exhibition at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. “Their documentary content relates purely to the fruits chosen but they offer a metaphoric image of the rural areas that surround the agglomeration”.
Patrick Faigenbaum’s acquaintance with many artists, musicians and filmmakers known to the public contributed greatly to the outcome of his project. “The base for my work was the house-cum-studio and district where an artist called Shreyasi Chatterjee lives”, he explains. He observed certain rituals of Bengali daily life without ever abandoning his status as a privileged witness with a Western background.
Like Shreyasi Chatterjee’s works of embroidery, “the choice of Calcutta allowed me to explore its layers of history and to show how they relate to one another as though in a mosaic or weaving”.
Trained as a painter, Patrick Faigenbaum took his first photographs during the 1970s. He has since focused particularly on portraiture, which has become his speciality and allowed him to make a series of black-and-white portraits of important aristocratic families in Italy in the early 1980s. When he takes up other types of project, he tackles places unknown to him, offering a fixed and intimate look on a city and its identity, as seen in his works on Bremen, Barcelona, Prague, Santulussurgiu and Calcutta.
His exhibition “Kolkata/Calcutta” at the Fondation Cartier-Bresson will be presented at the Aperture Foundation from 18 September to 29 October 2015.
* Kolkata/Calcutta, by Jean-François Chevrier, Lars Müller Publishers, Zurich, 2015