“We are all little pockets of seas that have learnt how to live on land…
A mother makes a small sea inside of her, Her child.
A watery home where we are nutured.”
The verse above summarises her new collection of paintings, offers the artist Gayatri Shantaram. In her travels and shows over the years, between her hometown Chennai and Paris, Gayatri has marked a clear shift from figurative pieces to large-format abstracts.
At her solo show, A Sense of Touch, of paintings on canvas and paper, Gayatri speaks of a newfound sense of maturity, having begun the current series a couple of years back, just before the birth of her son, Luke.
“This series I hold very dear to my heart,” she says, adding that the subject she’s dwelling on currently is essentially of water bodies. “I have represented the Bay of Bengal and the Buckingham Canal,” says Gayatri. While not quite primed for comparison with say, Turner’s frames on the River Thames, Gayatri does keep up a strong personal sense of style. “The sea always comes back to my work as a point of reference,” she explains.
“To me, the sea nurtures, energises and renews,” offers Gayatri. “I have always grown up by the sea,” she adds, without specifying the stretches of the Marina Beach. “Working while being pregnant, it was quite a challenge,” she explains. “It was a new and empowering experience, and I enjoyed every moment of rolling around with a big tummy around my works!”
Paying close attention to her paintings, over the roar and crash of the suggested surf, one might even sense a wistful hint of the jazz classic, Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema), eternalised by Frank Sinatra, for its lyric, “But each day, when she walks to the sea, she looks straight ahead, not at me.” Without having to say much, that’s just the lasting effect of living, and working, by the sea.
A Sense of Touch is on display at Artworld Chennai, Sarala’s Art Centre, until February 24.
— Jaideep Sen