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The camera's pilgrimage

French artist Ferranti goes from Goa to Portugal, and the result is some ornate, dramatic pictures. An exhibition featuring the pictures of this artist was on at the Alliance Francaise.

PLACES OF worship, particularly those which have passed their prime but still stand tall despite the ravages of time, often evoke a delicate sense of awe, intrigue, and mystery.

A touch of nostalgia, a tone of pathos inherent in these sites and locales are enough to inspire artists to some enduring images.

Mention the Christian faith and sites in India, and at once, what comes to mind are those imposing, regal, long-standing buildings of religious communion in Goa. And Goa is where the first frames are set in French artist Ferrante Ferranti's exhibition of black and white photographs, "Baroque Links from India to Brazil".

The rustic crumbling churches of Old Goa whether St. Catherine Chapel or Augustinian Convent stimulates Ferranti to some superb shots. Dilapidated walls, carved stone steps, well laid out stone emblems and lettered slabs provide a perfect mood to the photographer, resulting in several well-composed pictures.

The high-robed but barefooted full length statue of St. Francis of Assisi Basilique with hands crossed on his chest is composed to near-perfection, the deep expression of the saint adding to the captivating mood. There is another close-up of St. Francis where his dramatically lit up face is in deep focus. At St. Francois Xavier Basilique, an old woman with a walking stick adds the vital human element even as her frail figure stands hedged against a set of variably posed tall statues.

At San Cajetan Church, the viewpoint of two kneeling devotees adds a new dimension while in an accompanying piece sculpted statues of fairies make their presence felt.

Before departing from Goa, Ferranti includes a couple of arresting shots clicked at Anjuna.

The first one shows a boat with a painted image of St. Francois Xavier besides incorporating a dark fisherman with his net.

The second one is a much more dramatic one when the snow-white robes of nuns delicately contrast with the stark, dark, rough rocks on the beachfront.

Ferranti does not stay put in Goa — he trains his agile camera to lands far and wide. In Portugal, he captures the superbly sculpted figures rooted at the monastery at Tomar, outstretched wings of angels in the Church of St. Francisco, the long stairway of the Five Senses in the sanctuary of Bom Jesus, reflecting water bodies at the Garden of Marques de la Fronteira Palace at Lisbon, and the ruins of Vila Boa de Quires.

His next stop is Brazil, where his targets include tall palm trees and a huge white cloud dramatically composing the sanctuary of Bom Jesus (Congonhas do Campo), close-up of a veiled Christ with blood oozing from head, nose, shoulder, and chest (Alcantara), and Congado feast celebrating the end of slavery. A breathtaking shot in this series has some deeply silhouetted statues of prophets in the sanctuary of Bom Jesus — the stillness is accentuated by tall palm trees and a rain-drenched floor — but the picture of a playful kite-flying kid interrupts the stillness and adds a dramatic element.

Ferranti includes a few shots of Hampi, Belur, Sharavanabelagola, and Badami, probably to induce some local flavour, but these pictures, while being pleasant, really do not add to the overall context and content of the theme of the exhibition.

The interesting exhibition, at Atrium, Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, concluded yesterday.


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