Shibu NatesanShibu Natesan

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Shibu Natesan belongs to a generation of artists from Kerala who studied at the College of Fine Arts in Trivandrum during the early eighties, a time of continuing change and rebellion against a bureaucratic and stultified art establishment. The films of John Abraham and G. Aravindan were one aspect of the cultural climate of the time, and formative, along with translations of Latin American and African literature, of the minds and attitudes of young artists. His first significant body of work, a series of paintings entitled "The Futility of Device" derives from a feudal history excavated in painstaking detail, the relics displayed in the grim chambers of memory, symbols of aggression which repeat themselves with oppressive regularity. The atmospheric quality of these works, some of them based on photographs of archaeological remains such as the caves at Ajanta, is heightened by the use of metallic paint on canvas.

Shibu spent two years, between 1996 - '97 at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, and his recent "Missing" series of paintings is representative of the change that occurred duing the time. The use of photography here is even more literal, though still adhering to a stubborn involvement with the processes of painting, their capacity to shift and re-focus the gaze to glean hitherto unperceived information. 

There is a simulation which resembles the original to a startling degree, but which in fact prompts a set of readings which are contrary to what was intended, thus displacing the meaning without significantly altering it's appearance. Things are not what they seem to be; the actuality and sanity which these images once claimed is suddenly suspect.


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