BENGALURU: Life, livelihood and loss. Heart-wrenching scenes of migrants experiencing all of these during the lockdown kept playing in artist Shan Re’s mind. Putting paintbrush to paper, Re visualised their plight and endless journey towards their villages, and then took to what she knows best – art – to express her thoughts. “News about a child of a migrant worker waking up to find the dead body of her mother, people yearning to reach home unable to do so, these were images and stories that were bothering me.
I have tried to capture their emotions on canvas to show my solidarity,” says Re, who also worked on a series called Nocturnal Blooms during the lockdown, a floral theme which captures blooming in times of adversity. Footprints, a symbol to show their strength and determination to reach their homes without food and sleep, predominantly mark her work.
“Footprints are symbol for moving forward, moving without fear. They also represent a tone of adventurous spirit. I worked in many layers towards a balanced harmony. Textures and layers represent the depth and intensity of their anguished souls.
I create my own personal colours of bliss with a strong statement of positivity, hope and spirituality,” she explains. She is a spontaneous artist who knows the final painting only as she nears completion. “But what I did know was that it would be symbolic rather than realistic with faces and figures. My works are open to interpretation and give a viewer the freedom and scope to look at it through different perspectives,” says Re who quickly adapted to the new normal and focused her mind on creating new works.
“Sudden lockdown hit the migrants very badly. It touched my core. I took to my canvas to show how to embrace uncertainty, and how to balance emotions and control anxiety in this crisis,” she says. Two weeks of work, seven-eight hours each day went into the largest painting (6 feet x 4 feet). “I don’t take any breaks when I do my work. I sketch directly on canvas and work very naturally on the art work,” she says. Now having done about 10 paintings, she plans to continue the series, but will figure the works only during the process.