Charles Fréger — AAM AASTHA



Charles Fréger

Past: April 22 → June 3, 2023

The gallery is pleased to announce AAM AASTHA, a solo exhibition by Charles Fréger.

Since the early 2000s, with his series of “photographic portraits and uniforms”, Charles Fréger has been exploring, through clothing and costume, our ways of being in the world.

Over the last decade, he has devoted four series to masquerades: Wilder Mann, dedicated to the European continent (2010-), Yokainoshima (2013-2015), located on the Japanese archipelago, Cimarron (2014-2018) anchored in the territories of the Americas and finally AAM AASTHA (2019-2022), realized in India. This last project, recently exhibited at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne — Musée d’histoire de Nantes, reveals, in a vertiginous repertory of forms, colors and materials, the masked game of the representations of Indian deities, incarnating themselves on the occasion of sacred performances. The exhibition at the gallery Les filles du calvaire presents, simultaneously with the release of the book (Actes Sud), a selection of these divine incarnations.

Charles Fréger has undertaken from 2019 a series of trips to India, a country in which he had already carried out the projects Sikh Regiment of India (2010), Painted Elephants (2013) and School Chalo (2016). The title of the exhibition AAM AASTHA can be translated as “common devotions,” with “common” understood here in its double meaning: the ordinary and the collective.

“I wanted the title to convey the vertigo one might feel at the sight of these traditions. We observe the boldness of their forms, the opulence of their colors, their masterful outrageousness, the adhesion they arouse and we simultaneously learn that these figurations are the work of ordinary citizens, often from poor backgrounds, who embody in the collective imagination, the brief time of the masquerade, the gods.” — Charles Fréger

To compose AAM AASTHA, the artist began his exploration of the forms of incarnations of mainly Hindu deities in the south of the country (Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu) with the founding epic of the Ramayana as a guiding thread. The profusion of forms and traditions very quickly went beyond the strict framework of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and also included translations of Buddhist spiritualities from the North-East of India.

Through films, television, and school books, the populations have assimilated the dominant forms of Hindu representations, but their distance from the big cities allows a multiplicity of interpretations to persist: traditions of sculpted masks, totems, types of make-up, and character typologies specific to each region. Bypassing the established social hierarchy, the incarnation of the gods reveals a parallel, codified organization within which certain individuals, often from the most disadvantaged castes, are assigned this sacred role. Those who play become, through their costume, the real and temporal incarnations of the god: the change of appearance is associated with a change of status.

03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

17, rue des Filles-du-calvaire

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 74 47 05 — F. 01 42 74 47 06

Filles du Calvaire

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 6:30 PM
Please note that the gallery will observe its usual hours from May 11 to May 16, then from May 18 it will open Thursday — Saturday 11 AM to 6:30 PM

The artist

  • Charles Fréger