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Compelling images

Fascinating aspects of France and India have been captured by two photographers whose works are on view at Alliance Francaise

IT'S A month of photographic activity at the Alliance Française of Madras, with a line-up of exhibitions, workshops and films. And to start it all are Rannjan Joawn and Yannick Cormier with their exhibition of about 40 photographs titled "Objectifs Croises."

Rannjan is just back from his first trip to France and his photographs capture everyday life in France — cars making their way across a bridge in peak hour traffic, street side portrait painters, marketplaces, courtyards and cafes. "These aren't really typical images of France. There's a classical touch to them. I had imagined France to be in a particular way, this is what I have captured," says Rannjan who has been working in Chennai for the past five years. "At the Louvre," one of his beautifully blurred black and white photographs, shows people studying the masterpieces on the walls, poring over art books, photographing the paintings and some just sitting in the huge hall. A little girl is caught hopping over a puddle, suspended in air as a little boy in a woollen hat watches her. His images are simple, soothing and convey the feeling of colour and action.

French photographer Yannick Cormier is in India for the first time, working in association with the agency Wastok, and his camera has focussed on parts of Kerala, Chennai and Pondicherry. He has done a series on the ghats, the gullies and the Ganges at Varanasi, stark images that show long-haired sadhus and holy men bathing in the river. His portraits of children in Varanasi are compelling — one face slightly out of focus, the other perfectly detailed, both grinning broadly. Kovalam beach in Kerala, a man at work in Trivandrum, the waves breaking on the beach in Pondicherry, girls sitting on a pavement in T. Nagar... the people and the places in his photos are familiar. "This is my first time in India and these are the images that hit me most strongly. They are things I've never seen before. I wasn't really planning to exhibit the work, it just happened."

Rannjan says they both were determined to get the show together, even though there were some technical difficulties like not being able to get the right kind of paper to print their black and white images. Though there are difficulties in working in black and white when the world is focussed on colour, Rannjan and Yannick wouldn't have it any other way. "There's so much more to the medium and there's so much more to look at while you're framing and shooting," says Yannick. For Rannjan, it's the challenge of presenting the idea of colour in shades of black, white and grey that makes the medium fascinating. And they're both against the commercialisation of the art of photography.

"Objectifs Croises" is on till May 8 at the Gallery, Alliance Française de Madras, 24, College Road, Nungambakkam. For details about the workshop and other exhibitions, call 28279803/28271477.


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