The catalogue for this newly opened show at Hi Bus Depot opens with a quote by the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral: “You shall create beauty not to excite the senses but to give sustenance to the soul.”

This exhibition was truly the sustenance I needed right now for my soul, and felt like an injection of joy into the very fibre of my being. Having seen the work on instagram, I knew roughly what to expect but the true gravitas of the work in real life was like a bolt from the blue. Giant blobs of colourful resin cascading down from the ceiling invite different lights to bounce throughout the space, echoing the beautiful work. Huge mammoth drawings filled to the brim with happy colours and marks are almost Rothko-esque in the way they simultaneously overwhelm and delight. Shobhana Anne’s work is abstract, which is not to everyone’s taste, but the fluorescent neon colours and repetitive mark making hark back to a time of playful childhood and innocence that everyone can relate to. 

The blobs of colour look like single celled organisms, and the artist herself noted this in the catalogue stating that her work “emotively speaks with deconstructed organic shapes”. When you know that Shobhana Anne is Australian, American and Malaysian Indian in heritage, you can see how these dynamic cultures have melted together to inspire this incredible artist. She says that two of her greatest influences are the Australian indigenous artist Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda, and  American artist Frank Stella, and you really can see the resemblance between her work and theirs.  (I confess I had not heard of Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda previously, but do a google search… it is worth it!)

As a photographer, Shobhana Anne has travelled the world but she is relatively new to the professional art world. She has dressed the space incredibly well and her artistic flair can be seen throughout the gallery. Her work is highly desirable and commercial and I am confident that it will be the highlight of any collection it is part of, so if you like her work I recommend buying it now while it is still affordable. Prints are also available if you can’t afford an original.

The Vibrant Journey is being exhibited at Hin Bus Depot Art Centre, Jalan Gurdwara, from 11-29 March 2021. They are open seven days a week from 12noon-7pm on weekdays, and 11am-7pm weekends. The art centre has many cafes and restaurants (and fantastic ice cream) as well as unique local craft shops for buying amazing presents. There is also a weekly arts and crafts market (with excellent artisan food too!) but it is best to contact them ahead of time as SOPs may mean they sometimes close. Everyone needs a little cheering up these days and perhaps buying a small gift for your friends (whilst supporting a small local business) is a good way to spread some joy… that and going to this exhibition.

Thank you Shobhana Anne for bringing a bit more joy into the world, and helping to feed our souls.

By Lusy Koror