Music, mon amour
French cheese, wines and even movies may have generated a sizeable following in India, but its music hardly ruffles a familiar feather. This may be set to change, now that three female French singer-songwriters have set out on a “French Kiss 2007” tour as part of the World Music Festival, held yearly across the world on summer solstice day. The event, which has been organized in nine Indian cities, has been co-coordinated by the network of Alliances Françaises, along with the Embassy of France and Riff Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
Emily Loizeau, Mademoiselle K (pronounced ka) and Anaïs have generated a huge fan following in France through their diverse and wide-ranging styles of music and lyrics. The three singers come from a pool of musicians and artistes who grew up listening to classical French singers Georges Brassens and Edith Piaf, and international stars Madonna and Rolling Stones, at the same time. “They represent the new generation of French women,” says Prune Lieutier, culture coordinator at Alliance Française in New Delhi.
In an area traditionally dominated by men, these three, among others, are said to have reinvented French songwriting and music, characterized by a new dynamism and an eclectic mix of electronic, jazz, hip-hop and rock sounds.
The wide-ranging sources of inspiration for the three singers have resulted in intriguingly different styles. While Emily Loizeau grew up on classical music, which she describes as her “first language”, and Mademoiselle K is a Chrissie Hynde-style rocker who started off as a guitarist inspired by B.B. King and Janis Joplin, Anaïs is known for fusing satire into her musical performances.
Emily Loizeau, who will be visiting India for the first time, professes an “irrational passion” for the country. “My grandmother, who was an actress and had made films in India, always came back with such magical stories to tell that I built this dream through my childhood,” she says in an email interview. She is familiar with classical Indian music, especially through the films of Satyajit Ray, and says she is very excited at the prospect of performing here.
Lieutier, meanwhile, is confident the spectacle of the show will transcend the impediment of performing in a language alien to most of the Indian audience.
Local Indian bands have also been hand-picked by the organizers to perform alongside the three singers. The Mumbai-based hard-rock band Vayu has already planned a series of eight originals and four covers for the event. Tirthankar Poddar, the vocalist of the band, better known as 2Blue, feels that the presence of the three French singers will add an element of exotica to the performance. “Each of the artistes will have something different in their repertoire—it will appeal to the regular fans of classic rock as well as youngsters out to have a good time,” he says.
The three singers will perform in New Delhi with Soap on 21 June at Ministry of Sound; in Mumbai with Vayu on 23 June at Razzberry Rhinoceros. One or all three singers will perform in six other cities, including Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai and Pune between 20 and 26 June.
From the attic
A female nude by Ara, a Van Gogh-like flower painting by Souza, N.S. Harsha’s giant collage of famous men and women sketched on a painted cloth, Jogen Chowdhury’s “dreaming boy” sketched in cross-hatches of ink, Somenath Hore’s seminal Wounds series on white.
Collector’s Items, an exhibition of works by 11 artists, isn’t the kind of show you’d expect at Mumbai’s Galerie Mirchandani+Steinrueke. The mother-daughter duo, Ranjana Steinrueke and Usha Mirchandani, are known to showcase young, experimental artists.
But these are works that Mirchandani, a collector since the early 1980s, has preserved, because until now they did not exactly fit into the kind of categories that interested collectors. With the growing euphoria surrounding Indian art, collectors are pushing the envelope. Steinrueke says she sold 30% of the works even before the formal preview of the show.
So, what makes these works rare and desirable? A. A. Raiba, a contemporary of M.F. Husain, made landscapes of Mumbai and Goa in the 1960s and very few of them have interested collectors since then. Goa, one such work made with acrylic on a heavily textured jute canvas, is on display at this show. “Raiba would often compare himself with Husain by saying while his hand was made for the minute detail, Husain’s brush was for the grand canvas and the broad strokes,” recalls Mirchandani. The Mumbai artist, now incapacitated by age, is rumoured to be making waves at the international auction circuit of modern Indian art.
Jogen Chowdhury’s The Dreaming Boy (1999) was a part of a solo show of Chowdhury’s works that was held at Steinrueke’s gallery in Berlin in 2002. “It is one of the few works where his lines criss-cross each other and give the figure its depth and texture,” says Steinrueke.
The three works from Somenath Hore’s painstaking Wounds series, which he completed in the early 1990s, are the only works in the show that could be expected to fetch great prices, as it is the most celebrated collection by the Shantiniketan artist. “The real value of this series comes from the process of their making—by spilling melted wax on a wooden surface, he poked uneven holes of various shapes and placed thick white papers over them for the effect,” Steinrueke says.
But ironically enough, these works sold the last. Most collectors who began visiting her Colaba gallery after the show was announced grabbed the unconventional ones—a sure sign of changing times.
Collector’s Items, at Galerie Mirchandani+Steinrueke, Mumbai, till 31 July.
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