France Sri Lanka Cultural Exchanges - Suriyakantha

  The bilingual site devoted to the cultural life in Sri Lanka and in France                                                        
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Le site bilingue consacré à la vie culturelle au Sri Lanka et en France

H O M E   /   I N  B R I E F



Sri Lanka / France












Fascination of the body

Paul Cézanne

In the Light of Gauguin


Jean de La Fontaine


Malraux / Segalen


Pigeon houses in Quercy






Death Penalty

Mental Health



Miniatures of Kangra, India


A Ballad of Love and Death
Pre-Raphaelite Photography in Great Britain, 1848-1875

PARIS - Orsay Museum
Till May 29, 2011

In the second half of the 19th century, during the heyday of Victorian England, the aesthetic principles of the Pre-Raphaelite painters were frequently echoed by the photographers of the time who aspired to be recognised as artists in their own right. Like the painters, they too were influenced by the writings of John Ruskin, the leading theoretician of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. He advocated a return to nature and to craftsmanship, and championed a very precise, exalted view of medieval Gothic architecture whose high moral qualities he considered to be under threat from industrialisation.
The Victorian Pre-Raphaelite photographers and painters knew each other. They tackled the same historical themes, inspired by Dante, Shakespeare, Byron and Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate. They also turned to modern life for their more socially aware and morally instructive subjects, with the result that many of the paintings by John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Maddox Brown, and the photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron, Roger Fenton, Lewis Carroll and Henry Peach Robinson shared a common vision. This exhibition reveals the rich, productive dialogue that developed between painters and photographers.

Julia Margaret Cameron / Maud
© Musée d'Orsay (dist. RMN) / Patrice Schmidt

Julia Margaret Cameron / Untitled

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) in Ceylon

In October 1875 the Camerons moved to Ceylon. Charles Cameron had purchased coffee and rubber plantations on the island, managed under difficult agricultural and financial conditions by three of their sons. Mrs Cameron continued her photographic practice at her new home but her output decreased significantly and only a small body of photographs from this time remains.
After moving to Ceylon the Camerons made only one more visit to England in May 1878. Julia Margaret Cameron died after a brief illness in Ceylon in 1879 and Charles Cameron in 1880.

Jaffna, Roger Vulliez - photographies 2004

LIMOGES - Centre Culturel Jean Gagnant - 7, avenue Jean Gagnant - 87000
December 2005

In 1970, Roger Vulliez was already in Jaffna. In February 2004, he again did a stay during one week in Jaffna. 13 photographs depict today this "war landscape".

Kandy Alliance Photo 2003

For the second time, Alliance française de Kandy organizes, in November, a programme devoted to the art of photography
In 2002, we exhibited the work of Prasad Abu Bakr, Destry Muller, and Roger Vulliez. This year, an American depicts India through the lens and a Frenchman leads you to the discovery of small churches in France.

India Poems

      From 7th to 13th November
      "India Poems"
      An exhibition of photographs by Waswo X. Waswo.
      Opening Reception on Friday 7 November at 6.30 p.m.

My Private Driver - Pushkar, 1999

When I was young, I read poetry: Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly, Blake, Dickinson, Whitman... Ginsberg, Williams, Neruda, Snyder, Plath. It is probably significant that at an early age I aspired to be a poet. At the time, I didn't take much of an interest in art. My studies at college led me down the paths of literature. Later, I discovered the camera. The fact that the camera could produce visual poems occurred to me only after becoming acquainted with a pantheon of poets that I had previously overlooked: Atget, Curtis, Saudek, Cameron, Lartigue, Evans, Stieglitz. It became apparent that good photography, like good poems, could distill the chaos of experience into a shimmering concentrate, a liquor that was both lucid and intoxicating. I struggled with my decrepit old Nikon, and an even older Rolleiflex. It was like learning a new grammar, a new way of composing perceptions, emotions and thoughts into rhythms and rhymes. I learned by trial, and many, many errors. The guiding principle was simple: photography, like poetry, had the power to transcend the literal and reshape the everyday. The best of it could cut to the spiritual heart.

Elephant Festival - Jaipur, 1999

This is now my fifth journey through India. I feel, as a westerner, that it is never really possible to fully know this place. The cultural intricacies are too many. India, presumably poor, is in fact rich. That richness is found not in its gold-encrusted palaces and temples, nor the teeming business centers of Mumbai and Banglalore. It is found in the stillness of a mango grove, the chatter near a village well, the grace of an elderly man, the soft curves of a hand-wrought, dark-wood canoe.

I have tried to photograph this Indian richness. I try to do more than just picture a cow, an old man, or a monkey. I desperately seek the cow, and the monkey. The monkey I photograph must be deep-eyed, archetypal, and lyrical... the cow, an emblem of all Indian cows. In the same way, is hoped that my portraits not only capture each subject's inherent dignity, but that they also radiate a portion of the universal spirit of mankind.

I have already exhibited these photographs in the USA, and now, these showings of India Poems are my first exhibitions in India and Sri Lanka. Americans and Europeans look at pictures of the subcontinent from a cultural distance. For the Indian audience the veneer of exoticism is stripped away. Here, the photographs can become pictures of the known, the commonplace, the everyday. But it is hoped the sense of poetry, the aura of hidden truth, remains intact.

Waswo X. Waswo

A Flight of Birds - Jaisalmer, 2001

"The Soul of the land"

From 21st to 28th November
"The Soul of the land - Churches of France"
An exhibition of photographs.
Opening Reception on Friday 21 November at 6.30 p.m.

Looming straight upwards, in the centre of the village or tucked away deep in the countryside, is
the church, silent testimony to the Faith…
It may not always display artistic excellence, but it certainly expresses "the soul of the land".
It perpetuates the eternal presence of the sacred.
The lens of the camera sensitive and eager to rekindle the full impact of the memory and nostalgia, stamped in its more often than not modest belfries, bears witness to it.

    Notre-Dame des Misères
    Tarn et Garonne, 2000

Saint-Nazaire, Réalville
Tarn et Garonne, 2000

Behind that lens, the eye of the true "lover", the word "amateur" being used in the original sense of the word, chooses to spend his leisure hours at week's end, to flush out, in the heart of the countryside, now this chapel, now that church,
sometimes in a state of partial disrepair.
Maurice Soulié now invites us to share with him the joys of this ramble.


Read also :

  • Fascination of Body - Lionel Wendt, Jeanloup Sieff and Antoine Bourdelle.