This was my grade 10 final examination piece. A still life observational study of two pieces of jewellery, done in water colours, colour pencil and graphite pencils.
Grade 12 final piece based on the Hindu mother goddess ‘Devi’ done in water colour and acrylics.
Devi is the embodiment of ‘Shakti’, female power and it depicted in many forms in Hinduism as Goddess Durga, Parvati, Saraswati, Lakmshi and Kali.
In a way, this is a self portrait. My name, Shambhavi is another name for Devi, a mix of Durga (the Goddess of war, stood in the background) and Parvati, Shiva’s wife, the calm, divine feminine counterpart, seated in on the lotus in the forefront. I came up with this final piece after studying Tibetan Thangka painting and hindu mythology.
I became very interested in the depictions of hindu goddesses in ancient Indian art styles and wanted to create my own version of the Mother Goddess with my own personal symbolism.
After spending time at a Tibetan settlement and learning the basics on ancient Thangka painting from a master artist, I decided to incorporate the style into my painting.
In 2009, I started with Devika Krishnan, and artist and art therapist. This was probably one of the best decisions of my life, as she soon became a great mentor and more importantly a friend who really seemed to ‘get’ my art and me.
I was sitting for my 10th grade board exams and had to come up with a topic for my Art coursework, which was proving difficult.
In our first meeting she began to ask me questions like “who are you favourite artists? What sort of art do you like? Tell me about the things you like, outside of art – what do you like to do, to eat, to watch?”
And she would always ask me “Why?” Which was probably the most important lesson she taught me. Always ask ‘why?’
The only real insight my next art teacher in high school seemed to gain from me and my work was “Shambhavi is more interested in the ‘why’ than the ‘how’ which is what makes her work different’.
So in this fashion, we talked about the things that I liked and two things that stood out were Sushi and history.
“Alright, so we do the art of Sushi!” she said.
I looked at her like she was crazy. “That isn’t a topic. How do I draw something like that? Does my teacher at school even know what sushi is?” I thought.
But Devika persisted and slowly made me realise that it was far more interesting having a topic that was more of a concept rather than an object that one could just sit and draw. The fact that it also involved a lot of research, exploration and ideation strengthened my ability to understand and go deeper into other projects in the future.
The project started off very clearly. I looked at the history and literature surrounding Japanese cuisine and more specifically, sushi. I looked at the different types and why they were made in those certain ways. I was fascinated by the amount of precision, and training that went into the art of making sushi, which is reflected in Japan whose culture is is based on discipline and striving to achieve perfection.
I soon found myself studying Japan in another class at school. We were learning about the Second World War in History and were discussing Japan’s involvement and America’s role in the war. We studied propaganda art and posters and I fell in love with the colours and kitsch styles that were used. I wanted to create my own propaganda poster using the simplistic, singular forms from sushi and the stark and vibrant colours of propaganda art.