Artist features

Charles Fréger

The French photographer Charles Fréger has spent a decade creating portraits of diverse social groups and communities, often in uniform. His subjects range from French legionnaires, water polo players, English schoolchildren, Japanese sumo wrestlers, Chinese opera actors and African tribes to Vietnamese Buddhists.

Text Welmer Keesmaat Photography Charles Fréger

One of Fréger’s more recent projects focused on a Sikh Regiment in India. The uniforms worn by the regiment tell their own story about postcolonial India: they are a strange combination of Sikh and Scottish elements, and even the bagpipe still plays a role. In addition to these specific elements, Fréger is also impressed by their sense of appearance. ‘The Sikh soldiers fascinated me because of their wish to always look good. They always check their beards and moustaches and have their own ideas about aesthetics. I really like that.’

Charles Fréger’s photographs are contemporary portraits that deal with cultures and diversity, while also investigating the limits of individual and collective identities. They are moreover also about aesthetics – carefully created costumes expressing years of history and evolution.

This article appeared earlier in Yvi Magazine #6: Portrait.

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Contemporary Camera