We have all seen the sun that rises, the sun that sets. We have all seen the sea in its blue glory, in its brightest gold, in flickering silver. We have all seen this because we call ourselves Maldivians. But rarely before did most of us observe the light and motion of the Maldivian sun and seas as the divine union of light and life.
Indian painter Shashi Thakur, in her paintings, expresses her faith in this divinity. artistic creation, she believes, is an individual soul's journey towards God.
Shashi has been experimenting with various mediums of art for a long time. She started painting as a small child and took up drawing in college and further on. Lines and movement in spaces, flow and ebb of energy, as well as turning circles of emotions interest the artist. She prefers subtle expressions using positive colors created from her visual memory and imagination. In her previous works, Shashi has experimented with different media such as acrylic, mix media and ink on paper. Her recent experimentations include expressions created using Indian ink on transparent smooth surfaces to create motion and flow.
Her previous works have been mostly concerned with tapping into the concept of cosmic energy within the subconscious human mind. The spiritual tradition of the east have influenced the shape of her mind and continue to have a strong mark in her artistic creations. They revolve around paintings depicting meditation and elements of her culture, as well as a series of miniature paintings exploring her fascination with legends and folklore.
This time, the artist has visualized the Maldives through her own spiritual lens. Shashi senses the surrounding waters and bright Maldivian sun in terms of cosmic energy and puts it on her own canvas as fluid waves and lines depicting this energy. Yellow light and blues reign over the paintings illustrating Shashi Thakur's impressions of the Maldivian islands. The yellow in her lens resembles positive energy and spirituality, both of which are elements that are deeply rooted in the artist's psyche. For this artist, the merging of the bright yellow sun and life conveyed in blue expresses the simple law of the cosmos, whereby all elements of this life are continuously striving to ascend towards light, then to a higher light, until transcended into the Oneness of the ether.
"Jyotirgamay - Towards Light" is a collection of works displaying Shashi Thakur's impressions painted during her stay in the Maldivian islands over the last two years. The sun, the sea, the fish life and coral beneath, as well as the heron and the women of the islands appear and disappear across these paintings. Not as mere picturesque cliches portraying the idyllic elements of a destination sought across the seas by travelers, but as brushstrokes painting the truth about vibrations of creation.
These brushstrokes paint the rays of the sun sometimes glaring upon earth and beckoning all creation to merge as one, at other times hiding away to let the forces of nature take control as depicted in the painting titled "The pull and push, the urge to merge, reflected in each atom'. She explores the light of the sun on the surface of Maldivian waters, in the depths of the seas, and lightness of glare created in the morning. She portrays the motion of the seas as she strives to embrace the sun, the melting of the skies and its energy in the moment of union, as well as the darkened orange glare shed on the waters as the sun sits far away. Life, in Shashi's paintings, germinating from the depths of the seas in the form of a female figure is continuously reaching for the energy of the sun.
Just as the fish in Shashi's expressions are sometimes swimming towards light from the black of the depths, at other times exploring and searching every inch of its surroundings just as we humans continuously search for the purpose of life. Just as the heron that sometimes rises from the sea reaching towards the skies, at other times letting itself go with the energy created by a beating drum or soaring above the sun when the forces come to unite. And then there is the female form painted with different emotions, some of them vibrating in spirit, others fading into nothingness.
If colors and motions really do express as artist's interpretation of her environment, then the mood of her paintings in dark hues of blue express strong emotions in relation to the subjects in it. The eyeless native woman titled ' The sad eyes...full of tears...for the departing fish...' and the silent female forms disappearing in to a bluish abyss in ' With clipped wings we seek to fly!' seemingly expresses the way the artist identifies and understands the changes of time taking place in her current environment. 'Who can measure whirlwinds that trap the darkness within' she asks, expressing her emotions using a dark figure caught in a forceful wave that seems to engulf everything that surrounds.
And if colors and motions are used to express Shashi's interpretation of her surroundings, then the brightness of the sequined fish and whiteness of the symbolic corals and heron too have a story to tell. White, Shashi says, instills truth and light. She combines other soothing colors such as pink, purple and blue to depict love in her paintings. The continuous ascent from darkness to light she believes represents the motion of life from sadness to brightness. '... This incessant search, For the Ultimate Truth, Ends with life.' in her painting portraying the dual forces of existence in red and blue, thus, representing the persistent search for the whiteness in this life.
'Jyotirgamay - Towards Light' is one of many attempts by Shashi Thakur to comprehend the universal journey, according to Shashi's belief, from untruth to truth; from darkness to light; and from death to eternal life. This collection of paintings tells the story of Maldives through Shashi Thakur's looking glass. The paintings reflect the artist's inspiration derived from each rising sun, from the motions created by the waves of the sea, and the emotions felt with each turn and churn of life that exists within these surroundings.
This exhibition is another important stage in the artist's journey, where a few impressions will be left behind by her on the waves of the ocean and a few impressions will be carried away in the heart.
From: 1 July 2010 To: 22 July 2010
At: National Art Gallery