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France, India come together with art festival

Art enthusiasts congregate at Bonjour India.

While they may be more than 6,000 miles removed from each other and require a five-day drive to get to either location, France and India may soon share many similar traits at the conclusion of a festival that organizers in each country have established.

The Embassy of France and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations are holding a festival, dubbed "Bonjour India," which was put together to help more Indians appreciate the variety of artistic masterpieces produced by French artisans over the years. Similarly, the event is also meant to benefit people who are native to France who may not have much familiarity with Indian artistic culture.

Having begun on January 20 and lasting through the end of March, there are more than 150 events being held in support of the festival throughout India, including in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Pondicherry, Kolkata, Pune and Goa.

The Hindustan Times notes that this isn't the first time a festival of this type has taken place. The last one was held in 2010, much of which focused on introducing the French to Indian artistic history and artifacts, according to Aruna Adiceam of the Institut Francais en Inde, which helped organize that event as well as this year's.

"The first edition of Bonjour India was a splash into the Indian cultural scene," Adiceam told the newspaper. "This time, we aim to focus on Indo-French collaborations."

France, India well known for producing world's artistic titans
The Indian and French people both have rich artistic histories. One of the more contemporary artists to come out of India is Manjit Bawa. As noted by the online art exhibition website Art.in, Bawa's works are quite distinctive, vibrantly colorful and typically involve depictions of landscape.

"Manjit Bawa's canvases are very discernible in their colors especially the yellow color of sunflowers, the green color of the paddy fields, red of the sun and the blue of the mountain sky," the website states. "Bawa opted for more traditional Indian colors like pinks, reds and violet. He was one of the first painters to break out of the cliched grays and browns."

Bawa is now in his 70s and continues to paint from his studio in Himachal Pradesh. Other famous Indian artists, some of whom have passed away, include Ram Kumar, Krishan Khanna, Brota Rameshwar, Amrita Sher-Gil and Tyeb Mehta.

While there are a variety of contemporary French artists as well, muralists from hundreds of  years ago help put France on the map and establish the country as producing some of the world's most well-known creators.

Perhaps no one is more emblematic of the world of art as Claude Monet, who was born in 1840 and died in 1926. Over the course of his career, he produced paintings that are recognized by many people who have little knowledge of art, such as the famous Waterlilies, The Japanese Bridge and Rouen Cathedral at Sunset.

Other well-known French artists, some of whom preceded Monet, include Alexandre Cabanel, Edouard Manet, Pierre-August Renoir, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Camille Pissaro.

Bonjour India isn't entirely made up of art involving canvas and paint, however. Indians who have family back home may want to transfer money to India so that their loved ones can take advantage of the theater, as plays will be held during the 10-week event. Films will also be shown starting on February 15 and lasting through March 10 at the France Film Festival, the Hindustan Times notes.

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