An art exhibition at Matthieu Foss Gallery re-visits the classic tale of the Beauty and the Beast and gives it a contemporary interpretation. Commenting on issues such as gender games and excesses of capitalism, the images convey a thousand thoughts

French photographer and picture editor Anne Maniglier watched filmmaker Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la B te (1946), an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, when she was 13. The fairytale revolves around a seemingly improbable love affair between Belle or the beauty and a hideous Beast.

Worth the weight by Nibha Sikander explores the standards of
beauty society imposes on women

The movie left a profound impression on Maniglier and inspired the current exhibition at Matthieu Foss Gallery, which she is curating. Titled Beauty and the Beast, it features artworks and photos by ten artists and photographers who seek to re-interpret the classic and showcase their interpretation of it.

Ahead of time
Speaking about the black and white movie and the filmmaker, Maniglier says, "The movie manages to capture the concept of duality, which lies at the core of the tale.
It was way ahead of its time and boasts of a versatility in terms of set design, costumes and an ability to convey several messages at the same time.

Hangover man by Siddhartha Karawal depicts beastly power
and graceful beauty

It's reflective of Jean Cocteau himself who lived life on his own terms (he was openly gay). Despite living in conservative times, he stayed true to the ideas he believed in and this is reflected in the movie," she says.

For the exhibition, Maniglier organised a screening of the French movie for the artists. Thereafter, they set to work on creating art to represent the theme.

Cabinet of wonder
The exhibition attempts to feature a 'cabinet de curiosit �s' or a cabinet of wonders consisting of objects, which give free rein to your imagination. Some of the works featured include Mumbai-based artist Nibha Sikander's Worth The Weight.

Through a series of paper cut artworks she highlights how cultural ideals confine women to fixed notions of beauty. At first glance, her artwork, that depicts undergarments, hints towards seduction but manages to unsettle the senses when one realises that there is no body or face behind the garment.

"The image of an invisible fat woman in a corset is a critique on the obsession with looks. Being thin is considered a prerequisite for being termed as beautiful but what about inner beauty? The message is to accept yourself and not alter your looks as per other people's expectations," says Sikander.

Much ado about gender
Baroda-based artist Bhrigu Kr Sharma's Proposal is a manipulated photographic work portraying a black and white historical looking family portrait of a young man standing beside a woman whose face is covered with a beard. "My artwork reflects the politics of gender that slots people into categories.

So, while the portrait seems conventional at first glance, the beard can be interpreted as a sign of domination. The flower (a feminine symbol) thus contrasts with the beard (a male symbol) indicating a dominating female and how society perceives the relationship," he says.

Los Angeles-based Vidisha Saini's Lion, captures Behrupiyas or nomadic performers who change costumes every 42 days and adopt the characteristics of the role they play.

Through Mint/d, Bangalore-based Shanthamani Muddaiah transforms the one hundred dollar bill into a somber icon alluding to the dark aspects of the adoration of capital.

From December 16 to January 28
At Matthieu Foss Gallery, Hansraj Damodar Building, Goa Street, Ballard Estate.
Call 67477261