Friday, 13 March 2015


The Great Mosque of Agra, (c) G. Gasté, circa 1906

A photo exhibition paying tribute to the people and the magic of India at the turn of the twentieth century through the works of Georges Gaste who was born in Paris in 1869 and died in Madurai, India in 1910 — this one's for photography enthusiasts and history buffs.

Over a century after Georges Gasté’s death in Madurai, the Institut français in India offers a new life to the photographic work of this French Orientalist painter.  The project  — GEORGES GASTÉ IN INDIA : 1905-1910 — comprises of 34 remarkable photographs taken by Georges Gasté during his sojourn in India in the first decade of the twentieth century. And they will be showcased at the National Gallery of Modern Arts in Bengaluru

Georges Gaste
 The artist as an inspired reporter captured the daily Indian life — religious scenes, celebrations, crowds and markets. The pictures are 'strong' in its narrative, which is as close to reality as possible. There's a depiction of pathos of human life in the frames. This could also be the reason why these photos still have contemporary relevance. 
The exhibition also showcases colour reproductions of his paintings and a few of the letters written by the artist. A documentary film on Gasté’s life will also be screened in the gallery.
Constant-Georges Gasté was born in Paris in 1869 and died in Madurai, India in 1910. Trained from the highly selective Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris, Gasté was a noteworthy painter of his time. Reputed among the French Orientalist movement, which focused on foreign -especially Nothern African and Middle-Eastern- cultures, he received multiple awards at the Orientalist Salon in his lifetime. 

Pilgrims by the Ganges, Benares, (c) G. Gasté, circa 1906
Two retrospectives of his work were organized at the Grand Palais after his death, in 1911 and 1913. His most famous canvas, The Brahmins’ Bath, is conserved at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Following a trip to Northern India in 1905, he settled down in Madurai in 1908 where he breathed his last. In the nineteenth century, while the theme of the journey to the East was most often adopted as a way to excite the fantasies of a few Europeans, artists like Gasté refused to fuel this perception – certainly exotic and fascinating, yet far from reality. In addition to the remarkable composition and lighting effects, his work presents an ethnographic interest: due to the proximity between the painter and local populations, those photos narrate the everyday life in Agra, Benares, Delhi and Madurai at the turning point between two centuries.
Exhibition is on till 27th March at the National Gallery of Modern Art, 49, Palace Road, Manikyavelu Mansion, Bangalore 52. Phone: 080 22342338. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm

A Dancer and Musicians near the Pond of Teppakulam, Madurai (c) Georges Gasté, circa 1909

Sita's Terrace, (c) G. Gasté 1906

The Boatman and the Taj, (c) G. Gasté 1906