For the Kochi-based architect couple, Shahna Shahul Hameed and Thomas Abraham, life, work, and art unfold on a single canvas.
"All our paintings evocate certain emotions in our viewers!" Thomas said about the exhibition 'Winds through the Prairie' which features their collaborative works with his wife Shahna.
The couple organised their first exhibition at David Hall, Fort Kochi, from September 23 to October 2.
'Winds through the Prairie', which was the couple's first painting in the series, portrays an acrylic image of grass swaying in the wind on a bright day. “We have always loved painting since childhood, but this was the work that ignited our passion for abstract art and to fall in love with such a method of painting. It was just so beautiful as we wanted it to be and we decided to do more of such paintings. This work can give a spectator a calm, relaxed yet grounded feeling,” said Shahna. Eventually, Shahna and Thomas began opting for the same technique and tools to paint their state of minds on large canvases.
“The largest painting featured here is 'Echo' that comes in a size of 225cm x 195cm,” said Thomas, amid explaining their perspective on these works to the visitors at David Hall. The couple pointed out that they did not want these paintings to look like photographs, but hoped that these works gave their spectators a chance to visualise the process, which includes large strokes of thick acrylic paint and various textures. “In some of our works, we have deliberately made bigger strokes, flowy textures and a variety of impressions. Frankly, we want our viewers to understand and feel the process of curating such an art,” said Shahna.
Shahna-Thomas' paintings are the realization of two artistic minds on one canvas. Explaining their unique artistic process, Shahna said, “Sometimes, one of us begins the work and the other finishes it. This is why at times one can find different types of strokes in a single painting of ours."
Even though Shahna and Thomas share their love for acrylic abstract paintings, the duo's hearts lie in their architecture firm, Thomas & Shahna Architects. Speaking to Onmanorama, Shahna said that she could talk for hours together about their architectural works that they are immensely proud of. The firm, which takes up an eclectic range of works such as residential and commercial projects, primarily focuses on creating well-lit, naturally ventilated yet clean and sleek spaces. “Our aim has always been to produce simple spaces that can form a stage for a lifetime. We also keep it in mind to develop plans that are easy to be built and maintained. Our designs are simple, but trust me simplicity is the toughest part to achieve,” added Shahna.
Thomas opined that their clean plans and designs make them stand out among others in the industry. “We focus on including good materials, improvised elevations and management of space in our designs. Everything starts with the plan and comes down to it. So, our plans are the best!” he added. The couple had also mentioned that they have worked on a number of interesting projects, but their latest Synthite commercial building work has been a notable one.
Thomas and Shahna, who had studied together since their graduation in Architecture, completed their masters in the subject from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. After working in Chicago for a few years, the couple started their architecture firm, Thomas & Shahna Architects, in Kadavanthra, Kochi, in 2011. A recent project of theirs has been shortlisted for IIA Kerala 2021 awards.