Art Alive Gallery has curated a slow exhibition ‘Four Favorites and Other Works’, exhibiting recent paintings by Shibu Natesan as a show to India Art Fair. Hailing from Kerala, Natesan will be exhibiting his works in a solo show in New Delhi after 11 years.
Characterised by vibrant colours, his work often incorporates popular culture and addresses complex societal issues. Natesan’s style in this body of work, is a fusion of hyperrealism and surreal elements using symbolism and meticulous attention to detail such as light, shadow and atmosphere.
“Natesan, by painting a still life of a stack of monographs on four painters spanning four centuries of Western art history: the 17th century Frans Hals, 18th century Goya, 19th century Manet and 20th century John Sargent. Using painterly means, Natesan creates favorites within favorites as in the case of Sargent whose monograph faces the front; not only do we see the artist’s name on the spine of the book but even his painting that adorns the front cover,” said Prof Parul Dave Mukherji.
“Suffering from none of the guilt that many Indian artists have had to confront about ‘aping’ western artists, Natesan frankly, confidently and in a ‘painterly’ mode declares his sources of inspiration with élan. May be, a postcolonial move to shrug off anxieties of derivative discourse, it is through his painterly practice that Natesan holds conversations with these four artists from Europe and makes them his immediate contemporaries,” he added.
What is in common with all the four artists who stand tall in Natesan’s personal canon? They are all quintessentially painters who use oil colours with freshness and dexterity such that you can see the directions of their strokes; even the speed of execution is made visible for our aesthetic delectation. With that facility, they capture the tremor of leaves, fleeting expression of faces and evanescence of the phenomenological world.
“Except that the world that Natesan depicts has less laughing faces, idyllic landscapes and still life of flowers. He turns his attention to the world of objects which are pictorially equal whether they consist of debris of our culture like a fragment of a head from a doll, discarded figurines of gods and goddesses or fetishes like a golden watch.”
“Departing from his earlier larger paintings, these smaller works have a more intimate mode of address bordering on the confessional. In his pictorial universe, many familiar hierarchies dissolve where even the obsolete or ‘dead’ objects acquire an afterlife through the very act of painting. Playing with time, scale and memory, the works in this show audaciously place the living and the non-living in the same category of ‘lives of objects,” Mukherji said.
Natesan was born in Kerala in 1966, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in painting from the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram and his Master of Arts (MA) in Printmaking from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara.
When: January 18 – February 25
Where: Art Alive Gallery, S-221 Panchsheel Park