Shalini does her sexy

Posted in Opinion, Sex in Caribbean Art by Adele Todd on November 15, 2008

I would be so remiss to not discuss the sex in the work of the artist Shalini Seereerem. She recently had a show at ‘Y’ Gallery in Woodbrook that she titled, “Curve.”

This shape, curve, has everything to do with the feminine. Her work is known for deep, rich colour and predominantly female elements. She has been looking at the way that her lines make up underlying themes. A sort of hiding in plain sight, the real undertones that she wants to project out. So you may see a woman hugging herself, but her arms in its embrace form the shape of lips. So there is a sensuality factor that underpins the literal interpretation that you see at first.

I think that she can do a great deal with this underlying meaning in her work, and escape the tendency for her art to be percieved as pretty but not necessarily filled with deep substance.


There are a few local artists who say a great deal in their work that no one engages in the media. Why is this? It is not exactly clear? It may have to do with not fully understanding what the artist is about. Or it may simply be from not asking the right questions in the first place.

Christopher Cozier uses the naked man and the crutch, a self-portraiture that implies an impotence and helplessness, a great awareness of vulnerability that is alluded to in some of his work. Then there is LeRoi Clarke who himself refers to birth through repetitive images of the vagina in his works. The Barbadian artist, Anna Lee Davis uses the element of things untethered and hanging by strings. It may be difficult to find work by artists where a psychological underpinning is not present.

Yet, for artists working from the Caribbean, you get a sense of reserve as they make their works in the public domain. These very important elements get somewhat left behind, although the work is plainly saying things that are extremely important to acknowledge. It is quite maddening to pick up the papers, and see a writer cmpletely miss the point. Even worse, to see that no consideration is given to who the artist is, where they have come from and what informs their process.


It is even more distructive for the commercially successful artist, as Shalini is considered to be. On the one hand, it is wonderful to be able to have set a standard that people have come to expect. She can draw a large audience who genuinely love her work.

Yet it is also difficult to explore the more complex and challenging aspects of her work, fluidly. All artists have challenges, hell, challenges are what life manifests. So, there is the very real need to not be ambivalent about what is produced, and to literally go with the flow that is presented to you, as you make your work.

What I am talking about though, is the societal pressures to succumb to the popular or to the safe.

Yet there are those plodding along, making small and significant strides to finding personal identity through their work and managing to make a living, and I intend on pointing out these contributions as they happen.

Shalini Seereerem’s exhibition at Y gallery, Port of Spain


One Response

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  1. The TriniGourmet said, on November 15, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    really interesting stuff! 🙂

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