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Looking back

Artist Gerard Garouste’s exhibition titled “Gérard Garouste – The Other Side” will be featuring his paintings that span forty years of his artistic creation

FEATURING AROUND sixty paintings that span forty years of his artistic creation, from 1980 to 2019, one of France’s leading contemporary artists – Gerard Garouste has made his debut in India.

Titled “Gérard Garouste – The Other Side,” it is the biggest show of the 73-year-old artist’s work outside Europe. The exhibition is an unparalleled opportunity to discover the enigmatic artist’s imaginary and historical repertoire – which includes, among its sources of inspiration, myths and legends, religion and folklore. It is curated by former French Minister of Culture, Jean-Jacques Aillagon.

As part of a key Indo-French artistic exchange, under the patronage of the French Ministry of Culture, the exhibition is organised by the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and the French Institute in India, with the support of private patrons and Galerie Templon. The show exhibits complex works in oil on canvas, the artist’s favoured medium – combining Christian and Hebrew cultures, myths and legends.

According to Garouste, “A deeper truth and reality is revealed through myth, deeper than through history. The myths pull you inside, and it is from there that you can communicate with others. I feel very attracted to Indian myths, but, for me, that goes through reading and studying the original texts and through the original language. So that will be for my next life.”

Both a painter and a sculptor, Garouste’s art draws on his own life story and classical mythology, as well as founding religious texts like Bible, Talmud and the Kabbalah and European literary greats, Cervantes, or Goethe. A broad study of his work, the exhibition covers several series: le Classicist and the Apache, les Indiennes, Dante (Divine Comedy), Rabelais (la Dive Bacbuc), Cervantes (Don Quixote), Portraits, Goethe (Faust), Diana and Actaeon, the Bible and the Talmud.

Gérard Garouste lives and works in Paris and Normandy, and is one of the leading figures in French figurative art. In the 1980s, at a time when figurative painting was undergoing an international revival, Garouste’s practice called for the return to the grand tradition of classical painting, and played with influences by traditional masters from Greco to Titian.

The artist’s self-portraits also merge the personal with the mythical, as seen in ‘The Fig and the Hyssop’, 2007, and ‘Logic’, 2007, the latter being a family portrait representing the artist’s wife, their two sons and the artist himself.

Garouste also learnt the Hebrew language to inform his art-making. As the show’s curator Aillagon notes, it was because he did not want to have to rely on translations of the Bible.

On the occasion of this exhibition, a 224-page monograph featuring all of the works on display was launched by French Minister of Culture, H.E. Mr Franck Riester, on an official visit to India. The catalogue includes two new texts by Jean-Jacques Aillagon and Indian poet and art critic Ranjit Hoskote.

The exhibition is on display at National Gallery of Modern Art till March 29