Since 2010, Charles Fréger criss-crossed Europe from north to south, from Finland to Portugal, passing through Romania, Germany, Slovenia, Italy in search of the figure of the savage as it survives in local popular traditions.
These images, like archetypes, half-man half-beast, animal or vegetable, resurface from the depths of time on the occasion of ritualistic, pagan or religious festivals, celebrating the cycle of the seasons, the fat days, carnival or the eve of Easter. In the common fund of the European rural societies, these characters or emblematic animals represented protective figures or symbols of fertility. Today they evoke an imaginary, impulsive and physical world where everyone perceives an ancestral relationship with nature where the springs of our animality and sometimes the regressive desire inherent in some of our behaviors emerge. Fréger speaks of “a zoomorphic figure whose rudimentary aspect and ritualistic dress refer to a universal nudity”.
The outfit does not allow any glimpse of skin, the human figure is completely buried under an avalanche of heavy furs, wools, bells, horns and other materials and accessories. Here again, photographing outside the periods of festivals or carnivals, he stages these characters in a natural environment that he often chooses to be wide and open.
Charles Fréger (France, 1975) is a photographer who lives and works in Rouen, France. Over the past twenty years, he has built up an important body of work, taking the human being and his social skins as the central figure. Since 2010, he has devoted four books to masquerades: Wilder Mann in Europe (2010-), Yokainoshima (2013-2015), in Japan, Cimarron (2014-2018) in the Americas and Aam Aastha (2019-2022) in India. He has exhibited all over the world: Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris, France), Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne (Switzerland), Yokohama Museum of Art Japan, Galerie des filles du Calvaire (Paris, France), MOCA Shanghai (China), Rencontres internationales d’Arles (France), Seoul Museum of Art (South Korea), Yossi Milo Gallery, New York (USA), Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto, Canada), Fondation Hermès/ Le forum (Tokyo, Japan), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen (France), Fondation Armani (Milan, Italy), Musée des Beaux-Arts, Le Locle (Switzerland), Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie Arles (France).