KOCHI: “Art happens to me as I do chores that earn me a living,” says Muhammed Shafi S, artist and postgraduate in art history and aesthetics from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. His solo exhibition that is currently underway at Pachamama Art Cafe is both an examination of ordinary human existence and a reflection of personal artistic growth.
Shafi, who is currently a PhD scholar at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit (SSUS), Kalady, says he started drawing from a very young age. “For a long time, most of my works were either recreation of movie and cartoon characters or based on abstract shapes. My foray into figurative sketching happened only in early 2014 when I went to Shantiniketan for a couple of weeks along with a few art graduate friends of mine. There, I bought my first sketchbook and studied the human form closely to replicate faces and postures. You can call that my ‘serious’ attempt at drawing,” says Shafi.
The 28-year-old, who worked as a guest lecturer of art history at SSUS until recently, has displayed over 30 works for the exhibition. Primarily rendered in pencil, charcoal, dry pastels and watercolour, each frame traces Shafi’s evolution as an artist over the last six years. “Most of the portraits are of my friends in Baroda, there is also a series of sketches of my wife. Along with these, I have exhibited a few digital negatives and cyanotype prints. Cyanotype is a process of producing creative photo negatives which are cyan-blue,” he adds.
For Shafi, art is both impulsive and mundane at the same time. “Art is inclusive of my existence. The intention to create something is not outside or distant. I am far from a professional ‘art creator’ whose works are a product to be sold,” he adds.
By calling his maiden exhibition ‘Texting while driving’, Shafi is not delivering a preachy sermon on road safety. Rather, the title is a metaphor for Shafi’s process and his journey as an artist. He thinks of using the phone while on the wheel as an ordinary behaviour. While involving a certain degree of awareness, it also requires you to be instinctive. “The phrase came to my mind all of sudden. It was as spontaneous as my decision to draw, so I thought it fit. The exhibit has nothing to do with actual driving. Also, I didn’t want a highbrow intellectual name,” says Shafi. The exhibition concludes on February 12.