NAVIGATING IN THE DEPTHS OF DARKNESS
Sivasubramaniam Kajendren, May I Wait for You, 2023
Mysticism, decay and hope culminate in reflecting the mood of Sivasubramaniam Kajendren’s exhibition at Paradise Road Galleries till the 29th of June, 2023. The distorted figures; the women like angels in their sheer white, translucent nightwear and grandiose heads that stay so still and silent while a bird pecks its surface, invoke a reverberating sensation across the walls as one walks along the aisles. The theme of Siva’s art remains as a therapeutic catharsis, as one can imagine when one gets to know the story behind the artist. He has confidence that through hope, even the most damaged or scarred person can endure the hardships and struggles they face in life. As a Catholic, Siva believes that there is nothing that God will test us to delve into that we, as an individual, cannot grapple with.
Born in Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka during the 30-year-old civil war, Siva lost his sisters. Thereafter, he was faced with the dark repercussions of the tsunami in 2004 during which, he lost his mother. In conversation, he shared that his mind still dreams and yearns for those he and so many others have lost during these horrific times. The almost black, but in fact very dark blue of the figures depict those who passed away. The sameness in the faces show us the multitude of unidentified missing youths, women, children, fathers and soldiers. The bright okra yellow to orange of the flat monochrome backgrounds represent the Tamil people in our flag, flattened and bleeding into the unknown. The paintings are about the wives and the children who were left scared and scarred from the war, from the tsunami without knowledge of what happened to their loved ones. Are they in a prison still, somewhere paralyzed in an unknown hospital? Are they dead? Nobody seems to know.
Siva has a black belt in karate. He learned this discipline so as to understand body movements to feel the strengths and weaknesses of each joint in a human body. Therefore, when he paints his pain, his expressions are clear with minimal lines. Siva enjoys multitasking with his many artistic pursuits including painting, videography, photography and site-specific art that contribute to his artistic practice.
Siva believes that this country is so divided by hatred and misunderstanding, by invisible things that cannot be changed by unseen scars and unheard anger. Yet, one can see his scars and his anger depicted on the canvas he paints on. And he, himself, feels that there is still hope. There is still hope of freedom from these things through harmony, communication, purity and love.
In his works, one can see the eyes that are either responding to horrors in front of them or sublimely looking at the face of a child. Some eyes are brown, but he states that the blue eyes are of the Holy Spirit looking through that person in the image. In some of his paintings, one observes a tongue, clearly sticking out of the mouth of one or more of the subjects. According to Siva, there are traditional as well as his own unique representations for this such as trying to communicate, learning a language, trying to share the pain, trying to taste the differences and the similarity of cultures in an abstract way.
Sivasubramaniam Kajendren, HOME - 44, 2023
The colors in his paintings are all symbolic. The dark ‘burned’ body symbolizes a collective death, whereas the dark blue denotes ‘a poisonous body’ and there is the light blue, signifying a heavenly, Godlike body. The semi-nude bodies represent a protest, a cleansing. The nudity of the body stripped of all its clothes and jewelry becomes just a simple, human being. ‘A Holy Body’ as Siva would put it.
The artist suggests we move forward by letting go of division, unseen boundaries and misunderstood religions. He states that for him, his art lets his demons out. Siva is mindful of the heavy darkness and the sadness within him and remembers the border crossings and the sheer loneliness and fear. He has lived through blasting bombs and experienced ‘losing everything’. He is aware of the Tamil people who still suffer the possibility of a loved one returning from some unknown place.
Through his new work, Siva choses to move forward from the terrible scars, individually; through thought and love, instead of hatred. He reflects upon these strong sentiments by consciously navigating in the depths of darkness through mixed colors on his palate so that he can grasp the purity of white, the depth of light in a spiritual attempt to release his fears.
Sivasubramaniam Kajendran is a multidisciplinary artist. He graduated from the University of Jaffna in 2014 with a degree in Fine Arts (Art History). He has been awarded the esteemed UNIESCO scholarship of the Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asian Art (UMISSA) and has a Master’s degree in Art and Design from the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore, Pakistan. Sivasubramaniam Kajendran has had exhibitions both locally and internationally. His current exhibition at the Paradise Road Galleries. Gallery Café is open from 10 am through midnight, daily.
Sivasubramaniam Kajendren, Holy Love, 2023