FNB Art Joburg
Sandton Convention
Centre, Johannesburg,
South Africa

Exhibition of Interest

A sense of solace and balance

with Shine Shivan

Shine Shivan’s work is spectacular. Even when small, it is breathtaking, sensual, and serene all at once. Figures fill the frame, and they find themselves in prayer, praise, and devotion.

Hailing from Kerala in India and currently residing between Kochi and Faridabad, Shivan has developed a practice as a multidisciplinary artist, delving into themes of identity, memory, and cultural heritage.

In Basant, Shivan pays homage to spring, a time for renewal, joy, and love. The gallery is transformed into a sacred space resembling a temple, adorned with floor-to-ceiling pastel and charcoal drawings. Basant is a gesture at the knowledge of the heavens and the earth where meaning does not exist in the thing itself but in the relationship between the thing and its observer.

The artist’s statement, offered in the form of a poem, reflects a deep exploration of a concept of a time that signifies the bestowal of wishes and the arrival of spring. The artist conveys a sense of solace and balance, symbolising spiritual and material wealth. He contemplates Basant as a time of blooming flowers and invisible blossoms in all aspects of life. His fascination with the natural world further enriches this concept through flora and fauna that symbolise the enhancement, understanding, and cherishing of life. His connection to nature is profound, described as feeling intoxicated by the sun, loved by the air, and deeply touched by elements like fire, flowers, and water. Shivan’s sensibilities are rooted in a profound appreciation for the divine beauty and joy in every aspect of existence.

The drawings in Basant depict deities and their consorts in moments of divine ecstasy. The joyous emergence of life through spiritual devotion reflects the artist’s deep engagement with ancient scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and pilgrimages to sacred sites. Though steeped in tradition, his images offer a contemporary invitation to contemplate the essence of divine love and joy. Although they are specific to verdict myths, they are also open to allowing other things to happen. We can see different things.

The really wonderful thing is the wash of colour that encompasses the work. The colours are soft but also fresh and vivid. They are filled with the sensuality of symbols and marks—doting and loving eyes, rich and warm colours, and fluid forms. There is an evocation of music and musicality. In Prem Swaroop (Basant), two figures are standing upright and entangled with each other. While the first seems to be playing a musical instrument, the second is leaning in a tender posture, seemingly enjoying the proximity of their loved one. Non-humans and animals are featured, too – large and majestic elephants and what look like serpents coiling take up space within multiple frames.

In Shivan’s work, the line defined by a point moving in space plays a central role. His large, colourful drawings blur the boundaries between two- and three-dimensional forms, offering a rich tapestry of descriptive and abstract lines, inviting viewers to explore the interplay between form, colour, and space. The artist skillfully manipulates value to create depth and contrast. He plays with the lightness or darkness of tones. Shivan’s mastery of colour adds richness and dimension to his work, enhancing its overall tactile quality.

There is something dark, too, within the light. For instance, the image of Deeksha is quite disturbing. Bodies seem to spill out of the nose, eyes and ears of a head whose teeth are exposed in a near smile. Perhaps the artist is drawing a link between pleasure and repulsion, highlighting the thin veil between the sacred and the profane. In this sense, Basant brings nostalgia and joy to the fore but also reminds us that grief and fear are a hair’s breadth away from joy in the completeness of life. There is no escape from the darker side that travels with the bright and airy. First comes spring and summer, followed by autumn and winter.

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