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The French connection
The French writer-artist duo, Patrice Favaro and Francoise Malaval, finds all Indians artistic
Photo: Murali Kumar K.
ADDING THAT ALL-ESSENTIAL ELEMENT Patrice and Francoise believe life should be colourful
He is a renowned author, whose latest novel “Mahout” is based in Bangalore. She, a well-known illustrator, has transformed children's stories into a visual delight. The husband-wife duo of Patrice Favaro and Francoise Malaval, hailing from Southern France, combine their skills and work in harmony to create some fascinating storybooks for children. They were in the city to conduct a workshop on writing and illustrating children's books at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.
The duo complement each other perfectly. “Earlier, I wrote books for adults only, but after meeting her,” Patrice gestures towards Francoise, “I grew interested in writing children's fiction as she was also a teacher.”
Writing for children is no easy task, yet they have challenged themselves to publish wondrous books that are a delight for the imagination. Both believe that the creative process is a dialectic exchange with each other. Patrice explains: “It is a process of interaction between words and images. For example, if I am writing about an elephant, Francoise tells the story of the elephant through images and I express what the elephant is feeling.”
Distance and a tilt in perspective are essential for them. “It's easier to write about daily life if you maintain a detachment from what is happening around you. For us, distance is stimulation; it's a tool to enhance the beauty of the mundane, of ordinariness. We rediscover, through our works, the familiar,” says Francoise.
Travelling adds to the aesthetic value of their works. Surprisingly though, they have travelled only to the East, never to the West. Quiz them on why this is the case and Patrice says: “I don't know. It's something we realised quite suddenly. We are fascinated with Asia. So far, we have visited the Middle East, North Africa, Greece, Japan, the Pacific Island and India.”
Out of all the countries they have visited, however, India remains the couple's favourite: “It's amazing how India is cohesive in spite of so many different cultures, languages and customs. It's a beautiful paradox. We love Indian art, but we find that all Indians are artistic. The way vendors arrange fruits and flowers is so impressive. We are never bored with India, even if, at times, it's tiring,” says Francoise with a smile.
The conversation veers towards the subjects they choose to write and draw about: children. “We explore the relationship between adults and children. Our works are an attempt to bridge the gap between the past and the future, between the traditional and the new,” says Patrice.
“While writing children's books we ensure that there is enough space for a child to work on his own interpretations; children weave innumerable and different stories from the story they read,” adds Patrice.
Asian folk art, R.K. Narayanan, Amitava Ghosh, Rohinton Mistry and art work of the Gond tribes form the duo's primary inspiration. “As artists, we believe that life must be colourful and life here is an embodiment of this philosophy.”
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