Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 23rd 2014 Contents B3
and design to
the public ---Page B46
Night and Day at
NYC museum ---Page B29
In the book This Business of Liv-
ing, Italian writer and poet Cesare
Pavese states: "We do not remem-
ber days, we remember moments."
With her latest exhibition Intimate
Moments, artist Shalini Seereeram
discloses points in time in her life
that are seared on her memory.
For her, a moment is about human
emotions. What she remembers,
therefore, are her personal sentiments
and she brings those to the canvas.
"I have tried to translate the sub-
tleties of what I have felt, into the
work," she said. Seereeram also brings
a particular understanding of the
word "intimate" to her recent paint-
ings. "I am looking at a cross between
intimacy as a connection to others
and intimacy as solitude---even soli-
tude is an intimate moment in itself,"
The idea of an intimate moment,
then, is not merely tied to a physical
"The body is just a vessel. An inti-
mate moment is not just about shar-
ing a raw experience, which I see as
a physical thing, but also about a
sharing of the spirit," she said. In
her presentation of images in which
human bodies figure prominently,
flesh becomes a symbol or outer sign
of inner energies and unseen dia-
This new series of art is decidedly
more introspective than Seereeram s
past works. She puts herself in sharp
focus. In a career that has spanned
14 years, she has consistently depict-
ed a broader, collective self through
illustrations of Indo-Caribbean cul-
ture. Her artworks in acrylics, oils,
nail lacquer and collage have been
exhibited regionally and internation-
ally and they have been featured in
such publications as Caribbean Beat
and MACO Caribbean Living.
Now, Seereeram offers visuals with
an autobiographical edge. In the
painting Temple of Silence, she cap-
tures a painful moment in her life.
It shows a figure with an arch-
shaped opening in the chest. A knife
is deliberately placed in the cavity.
"We house hurt but if hurt can
be destructive---if it can endanger
you with that rusty knife---it can also
be growth; it can also be a beautiful
thing," she said. Out of agony a cre-
ative force can blossom and the
painting is a manifestation of that
In another piece, the lotus flower
becomes a key element. The lotus
grows in muddy pools in defiance
of seemingly grim conditions. For
Seereeram, it represents moments
"The lotus is a big part of my life.
It symbolises my struggle for beauty;
for the pure, good part of myself---
my struggle to let all impurities run
off. Every day we deal with things
that are distressful so we have to
make an effort to have our goodness
remain unbroken," she said.
Water is another significant feature
in the work, which Seereeram uses
as a means to address notions of
both moments and intimacy. "I like
water because it is cleansing or reju-
venating. There are moments when
we need to go to water.
"There is also a fluidity to people.
If you try to hold water, it gets into
every crevice in your hand. You can
be like water with people. You can
occupy something within them. In
some small way you can have your
love influence someone else---getting
into their crevice or spirit," she
Seereeram also incorporates old,
abandoned windows in her art. They
serve to reinforce ideas of looking
inside; of accessing personal, intimate
spaces. The windows also signify the
preservation of time and the potential
for salvaging and transforming
moments. "The windows are about
taking moments we want to discard
and making something beautiful out
of them," she said.
In several paintings, bodies fold,
twist and are contorted. In some
works the figure appears alone but
in others bodies intertwine. For
Seereeram, these refer to specific
moments: "Sometimes we feel like
curling up or folding up. When we
fold into each other, people can
become our blanket."
This series, taken together, is also
an important moment for the artist
as it is the first time she is attending
to her sexuality in her art. Images
of same-sex interactions are includ-
"I am putting myself out there
and challenging silences. I know I
am not the same but why must I be
quiet?" she asked while bringing a
finger to her lips.
"There is someone out there who
is saying they are not seeing images
of themselves," she added.
Another first for the artist is her
use of layers of wood to build images
that are raised above the surface of
the canvas. This approach lends a
sculptural quality to the pieces and,
in the context of the theme of the
show, it is a technique that allows
Shalini Seereeram to proclaim her
life experiences. It allows her intimate
moments to, as she describes it,
"jump out at you."
Intimate Moments opens
tomorrow from 7 pm at Y Art
Gallery, 26 Taylor Street
Woodbrook. The exhibition
continues until December 6.
Call 628-4165 or e-mail
The Promise by Shalini Seereeram.
My Heart in Your Hand by Shalini
Evening Star by Shalini Seereeram. PHOTO COURTESY SHALINI SEEREERAM
'I'm putting myself out there
and challenging silences'
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