Giving soul to the fire

Updated: Jul 28, 2019, 07:53 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi

The tragic life of artist Camille Claudel gets a voice in a recital

Giving soul to the fire
A man looks at a sculpture tilted 'Portrait of Rodin' by Camille Claudel during the Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde at the Barbican Art Gallery

Have you seen the beautiful works of French sculptor Camille Claudel? They are masterpieces—way ahead of their time—that stemmed from the artist's passionate, unapologetic nature of being a true genius. In fact, she had developed revolutionary sculpting techniques which she wasn't recognised for, being the student and lover of French Sculptor Rodin. Unfortunately, her life too came to a tragic end.

Based on Into the Fire by American composer Jake Heggie, an upcoming recital at Alliance Francais brings together mezzo-soprano Anoushka Pokhare and pianist Nadine Jo Crasto. Before each piece, Jo Crasto will recount a story from the life of Claudel which inspired that particular piece.

French sculptor Camille Claudel working in her atelier in 1902. Pics/Getty Images
French sculptor Camille Claudel working in her atelier in 1902. Pics/Getty Images

Pokhare explains, "Due to her outspokenness and forward thinking, Claudel's family did not support her, and after her abortion, she was forced into an asylum and kept there for 30 years where she was rarely visited. Before she went into the asylum, she set fire and destroyed almost all her sculptures because of Rodin's betrayal. Though she was suppressed by her circumstances, our recital aims at giving her a voice and hopefully, we can all be touched and inspired by her story."

Further, Crasto says, "As young female artists ourselves, we are inspired by Camille's talent and radical thinking. Her immense passion, boldness and intelligence as an artist placed her well ahead of her time and is greatly responsible in paving the way for female artists who came after her. Her sculptures depict real emotions and that's exactly what we are doing through our music."

Mezzo-soprano Anoushka Pokhare and pianist Nadine Jo Crasto who will be presenting stories from Claudel's life
Mezzo-soprano Anoushka Pokhare and pianist Nadine Jo Crasto who will be presenting stories from Claudel's life

Composer Jake Heggie is a beautiful storyteller and, like Claudel's artistry, his music is bold and passionate. This work of music and art appeals to people of all ages as it deals with the basic human emotions of love, betrayal and pain. "We are indeed very grateful to the Alliance Francaise de Mumbai who have extended immense support to us and for giving us a platform to tell Camille's story," says Pokhare. Interestingly, the recital will also have a special appeal for the Indian audience as the work has a few Indian influences. "One of Camille's sculptures was based on our Indian tale, Shakuntala. It will be a very fulfilling experience and we hope to take her story to people all over India," adds Crasto.

What: Camille Claudel—Into The Fire
When: August 5, 2019, 6:30 PM to 8 PM.

Where: Alliance Française Auditorium
Free

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