The first thing that strikes you are the colours. Different hues of orange and blue dance flirt with each other on the canvas.
The colours beckon and invite you to look at Maldives through the eyes of an Indian painter.
‘Jyotirgamay-towards light’ is an exhibition by Shashi Thakur.
“I’ve captured everything I feel about this country and painted it on canvas,” says the jovial Shashi.
Maldives on different mediums
Shashi’s vision of Maldives is beautifully captured using different mediums. Oil on canvas brings alive a scene of boduberu. Two men dance with wild abandon, their feyli vivid, the white strips striking, their red shirts wirls while the sea behind whirls.
The sand seems to shift beneath their feet, two herons dancing in rhythm.
A surfer rides in the midst of a surf wave. The brush strokes flow from underneath him and cocoons him in its midst.
“I used Indian ink on formica here, the ink is almost transparent on the smooth surface and there’s a flow to it,” she explains.
Shashi feels that despite the diversity of medium used there is a unity in the paintings.
In Shashi’s paintings the sea churns, swirls, raises – and it’s never far off. Her signature style – quick brush strokes using one colour and mixing them straight on the canvas – gives a zigzag feel to each line.
She has painted fishermen. The entire painting is in blue different hues of it. The fishermen reel in the fish, while the sea swirls and blue arches emanate from a light source on the horizon.
“With the emergence of the glorious sun, I also emerge but unwillingly, from beloved sea,” reads one of the lyrical captions by the Indian High Commissioner, Dnyanesshwar M Mulay, adding a poetic dimension to the paintings.
“The paintings are full of the vibrancy of longing, surging, churning and convergence that enrich life and its process” says Mulay of Shashi’s paintings.
Shashi says the act of painting is almost like a meditation for her, “I’m searching for light, when I with my canvas, I am going towards light.”
Light is very much present in her paintings. Either as a white bird in flight in a painting of a women caught between the surging waves and the orange horizon in front. Or the light that emanates from the surface of all her underwater paintings.
Interestingly enough, Shashi has never dived, or snorkeled.
“Luckily here you can stand chest deep in water and still see beautiful corals,” says Shashi, who is planning a dive in the underwater submarine to finally see underwater beauty in all its glory.
Art scene in the Maldives
“Artists all over the world are the same, when I meet other artists I feel like they are my soul mates.”
Among Maldivian painters, Shashi says she particularly likes the works of Suja and Mariyam Omar: “I am fascinated with Mariyam’s style, and her use of coffee in her paintings.”
Shashi has a work in progress, at the art gallery. When art students come by she shows her signature style and lets them try on the canvas: “When they try they know how easy or difficult it is.”
Plans are afoot to bring a group of Indian painters to Maldives in the near future.
“I want them to stay in Maldives for a while and paint this country in their own style,” she says.
She rues the fact that paintings are bought from abroad to adorn walls here.
“Mr Mulay will be conducting an auction of the paintings on the 20th night of this month,” she says, hoping this will encourage more businessmen to buy paintings straight from the painter.
Some of the proceeds will be donated to charity.
Viewed through the paintings of Shashi, the Maldives is a diverse colorful place bursting with energy and beauty.
Jyotirgamay-Towards Light will be held in in National Art Gallery until 22 July 2010. The gallery will be open from 11:15 till 16:00 & 20:00 till 22:30 on weekdays.