Shalini paints Shalini Seereeram

Shalini’s exhibition at Y gallery, Port of Spain, Trinidad

The artist Shalini Seereeram has been creating vibrant, undulating portraits of women and sometimes men for a number of years. Her technical style is informed by continuous line, intricate pattern and dramatic contrast of colour within the picture plane.
One cannot help but contrast her style against that of the Illustrator, Stuart Hahn, her contemporary, who uses coloured pencils in his works. They both are able to capture a sense of movement and particular posture from their characters. Yet hers veer towards the use of collage and at times, computer graphic techniques.

It is important to compare these two artists because of the short history of drawing in Trinidad and Tobago. Both have come from a healthy tradition of seeking the highest standard of formal drawing, and have worked in the advertising industry. Both have fought hard to create Art from techniques that are largely considered illustrative, and both continue to quietly produce and show to the beat of their own drums, to laudable effect, and some fanfare as they attempt to keep illustration alive as an art form.

These are professionals who are literally holding up the columns of drawing, and are trying in their work to represent us as a people in Trinidad and Tobago. I would strongly suggest that a group show be put together in the near future, and much more be written about what they are endeavouring to do.

I have seen Ms. Seereeram’s process over her career grow and blossom, and her motivation run from the desire to create strong images that are not considered so decorative that the intention behind the work is lost.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the successful, professional artist is always challenged to stay the same while trying to explore possibilities in their work. How can an artist mature, when their audience is expecting much of the same, and moreso, liking more of the same? With this body of work that Ms. Seereeram titles, Curve, she looks at a dimension of her drawing style that is constantly commented on, as her starting point in her pieces. Her images have become a bit more aggressive and fractured, more stained in terms of palette, with her signature colours playing off each other with less pattern. She is abstracting the shapes of hands, breasts and arms and her faces are becoming less and less about racial make-up as she endeavors to explore the beauty of unending line quality, and the music that it can achieve as it moves into and out of specifically defined shapes.

She still enjoys pattern in fabric, as sari’s undulate and sarongs swish against the breeze. Twisting the body is something that she may continue to explore, as it seems to be a point of interest in her work that repeats. In Curves, Ms. Seereeram is also creating a more in depth visual language, as her shapes create hearts, lips and other subtle patterns onto which her women nestle. She tries to look at more complex relationships of feminine love and mutual respect in these pieces. – Adele 2008.

In Khatak Dancer, Shalini Seereeram explored the use of lighter washes rather than heavier opaque tones to outline her forms. This transformation is an effective step to break from her familiar style. The artist paid less attention to fill in the compositions as in her previous works. The results of trying too hard and allowing herself to draw and paint freely or less restraining shows a cleaner a poetic composition. In terms of a breakthrough, this is the most successful painting at her show. Seereeeram also included two sculptural self-portraits which bordered on the lines of Indonesian stick puppets.

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