Shibu Shivaram's abstracts can be interpreted in unlimited ways

Artist Shibu Shivaram doesn't believe in “limiting art” to forms and titles. That's why the 30 paintings that Shibu has put up on display at the Art Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum, do not to have titles that define them or any discernible form – man-made or natural – that can explain them. The exhibition, though, has a title ‘Sight of Insight'– rather apt for these works of geometric abstract art.

Freedom to interpret

“I don't want the viewer to be trapped by a title. I want them to be free; free to interpret and to explore my art with all their creativity, howsoever they see fit. Our creativity – our mind – is limitless. Isn't it a sacrilege to bind it with a mere word or two?” asks Shibu, whose abstracts abound with geometric shapes such as squares, triangles, circles, rectangles, and so on, juxtaposed or melded in different ways in different paintings. But there is nothing that is discernable as a figure. “Again, forms/figures are mere reflections of something organic, of something inorganic, of social issues, of economic issues, of political issues….or generally whatever the artist intends to highlight. This brings us to the question: What is art? Is it just supposed to be a shadow of something? As the saying goes, art should be for art's sake,” says the artist.

Because Shibu has carte blanche given us the “freedom” to interpret his paintings, we cannot resist trying to find some connection (the more bizarre the better) with the familiar. Is that an outline of a tribal shaman? Is that a holy cross, a crescent and moon, the Universal eye? Is that an interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian man? Maddeningly, Shibu's only answer to our queries is a smile. Ditto when we ask him about the set of paintings that seem tantric in their inspiration. These five paintings are quite different from Shibu's other works – larger and more colourful canvases as opposed to miniatures in pastel and muted shades. For this set the artist has painted geometric shapes in bright yellows, oranges, greens, blues and reds against a black background. “Even if they seem tantric, it was not an intentional choice,” says the artiste.

Shibu's philosophy of art, he says, is inspired by veteran artist Paris Viswanathan's idiom that “the painter becomes the painting.” “As a fine arts student (at SreeSankaracharya University, Kalady), I was exposed to and painted all kinds of art, such as still life, landscapes, and so on. But I had this feeling that there was something missing in me as an artist, until I studied Viswanathan's art. Here was something I could identify with,” explains Shibu.

The exhibition is on till May 28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Keywords: Shibu Shivaram