After 25 years of photography, Shalini Saran put aside her camera and began playing with image editing softwares such as Picassa and Photoshop on her computer. Thus began a new creative turn that led her to digital art—art created on a computer in digital form—and has culminated in a show of 52 digital prints.
The prints consist of abstract designs in shades of black, white and grey. The abstractions show Saran’s deep engagement with the medium and the variety of styles seems to reflect tumult and calm at some level. Calmness that is soothing is more apparent in prints that manipulate geometrical shapes with clean lines, but also seems to underlie the agitation and energy of works that are less coherent initially.
In a spare exchange over email and phone, Saran tells Lounge about her approach to making art. Edited excerpts:
Before you began making digital artworks you were a photographer for many years. What made you shift gears?
A waning desire to ‘capture’ images; a growing desire to move away from the known.
Untitled by Shalini Saran
Creatively speaking, how is the experience of making these digital works different from and similar to taking photographs?
It is an entirely different process. In photography, you ‘recognise’ a possible composition. In my work, one begins, as it were, on a blank canvas. The form evolves.
How does the form evolve? Any comment on the process?
Basically, nothing is planned. Something triggers the first thing you do on the canvas, and then it is just playing. It is a joyous exploration. It is like being a writer—he is led through the novel. It is a combination of intuition, vision, intelligence, and the dexterity of the tool in your hand. And then the creative force takes over.
The choice of abstract drawings seems like the polar opposite of capturing the world around you with the camera. Why the choice of abstraction?
The desire to move away from the known...
The abstract drawings are all untitled—what would you say is their link with the real world?
Form, tonality, texture and colour are all part of the real world.
Should a viewer try and draw some meaning out of your works? Or should they only be appreciated visually i.e. for their aesthetics?
If by ‘meaning’ you mean the recognition of something, the answer is no. However, a person is free to view the work as he/she pleases! When you view a work of art that is visually pleasing, it has an effect on your being. The more visually sensitive you are, the deeper the impact.
Untitled by Shalini Saran
Where did you draw inspiration from? Any influences?
I have been deeply influenced by painting; much more than photography. I think my work reflects that.
Do you feel the desire to pick up the camera again?
I don’t know. I never know what’s going to happen.
Digital Art by Shalini Saran will be exhibited at Gallery Art.Motif, F213-C, Lado Sarai, New Delhi, until 10 May, 2009. Signed digital prints in limited edition of three are available from Rs10,000 to Rs 42,000 per print.