In an era where artists constantly seek out the extraordinary to capture in their work, acclaimed Kerala-born painter Shibu Natesan offers a counterintuitive perspective by elevating the ordinary to the heights of fine art. The ‘Four Favorites and Other Works’ exhibition stands testament to the transformative gaze of an artist who finds a muse in the unassuming corners of everyday life.

During the unforeseen circumstance of the global pandemic, Shibu Natesan’s nomadic streak was brought to a standstill. Accustomed to painting on the move, he found himself confined, but rather than see this as a constriction of his artistic capabilities, he saw an opportunity to look closer at what was already around him. It was in this inward reflection that Natesan’s appreciation for the mundane flourished, giving life to objects that would otherwise go unnoticed.

The exhibition, currently on display at Art Alive Gallery, beams with Natesan’s meticulous attention to detail. A particular standout is the hyper-realistic portrayal of a dragonfruit, painted with such precision that it momentarily blurs the boundary between art and reality. The textures and colors leap from the canvas, inviting visitors to ponder the beauty hidden within the folds of normalcy.

With studios in both Kerala and Baroda, Natesan had previously adopted what he describes as a “nomadic lifestyle”. This itinerant way of living fed into his art a sense of fluidity and adaptiveness. His ability to absorb the essence of various environments became a signature trait in his expansive body of work. However, unlike his earlier larger-scale pieces, the artworks showcased in ‘Four Favorites and Other Works’ are intentionally smaller. This choice for diminution not only bridges an intimate connection between the creator and the creations but also invites the audience to intimately engage with each piece, often completed in a single sitting.

The medium of oil painting lies at the core of Natesan’s craft, seen as an enduring classic that he both respects and relishes. The challenges it presents are met with an equal measure of artistry and patience, resulting in compositions that are rich in depth and texture. Such features are particularly noticeable in an artwork featuring a set of four books. Laid upon a table, these books are an understated nod to the maestros of oil painting – Sargent, Manet, Goya, and Frans Hals, capturing Natesan’s affinity for European artists who have left their imprint on the centuries-old tradition.

Furthermore, the collection delves into the logic behind still life, a genre deeply rooted in European art history that holds a unique allure for Natesan. By channeling his innermost observations onto canvas, he compels the viewers to halt their pace, if only for a moment, and reflect on the nuanced elegance of simple objects.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Natesan’s current exhibition is also a homage to the resilience and adaptability of artistic expression. When the familiar external muse is stripped away, the artist turns to the seemingly trivial facets of life to kindle inspiration—proving that even in times of constraints, creativity knows no bounds.

Visitors can experience the alchemy of Natesan’s work firsthand at the Art Alive Gallery, situated at S-221, Panchsheel Park, until March 2nd. The gallery opens its doors from 11 am to 7 pm, welcoming all who wish to witness how the mundane can indeed be transformed into the extraordinary.

Art, after all, holds the power to shine light on the oft-overlooked beauty that resides right before our eyes. Through a dragonfruit’s vibrant hues, the legacy within a stack of books, or the humble presence of everyday objects, ‘Four Favorites and Other Works’ is an invitation—a reminder that there is art in every facet of life, waiting to be acknowledged and celebrated.

By IPL Agent

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