Drawings, Sculptures, Installations

M Ramachandra  » Carbon Myths » 2010
Galerie Hélène Lamarque Miami.

In Shanthamani M.’s work, the material is the central axis, a point of departure as well as an interpretive conclusion. It is at once the support, the mythical origin, the carrier and the meaning of the work. Coal, with its rich associations as a major source of energy, is the main speaker, or narrative voice in her oeuvre. It speaks of a dynamic of tension between tradition and modernity, about accelerated processes of development and urbanization, about the exhaustion of natural resources, about the exploitation of workers in coal mines, about complex ecological issues, about globalization and consumer culture, and about the relations between nature and culture, the body and the environment, matter and spirit.

A medium that has immense messages etched onto it interpolates in every communicative action. A plethora of ideas that are integrated in a sign which evolved through a historical continuum since the dawn of civilization in very many societies persuade us to decode it at various levels and dimensions. Any sign, including an image created by an artist for that matter, becomes a sign if and only if a given society agrees upon its meanings. When an artist delineates a subjective image i.e., an image that has only a personal meaning, it simply becomes a form that does not refer any meaning or feeling to the society and it proceeds to the course of oblivion. On the other hand, an image or a medium that has a prevailing use in a society becomes a handy communicative sign in the hands of an artist who intervenes in the cultural process with a conceptual premise. But there lies a major task for the artist to delimit the sign to be within the precincts of the conceptual framework of a work of art.