Beyond the obvious: Finding faces in faceless portraits

Artist Maheshwari expresses her interpretation of  iconic scenes from popular Tamil films on canvas through her faceless portraits

author_img Vaishali Vijaykumar Published :  26th November 2021 12:22 AM   |   Published :   |  26th November 2021 12:22 AM
Artist Maheshwari

Artist Maheshwari

Ram and Janani from the film 96 take a walk down their memory lane when they catch up after a long break. Shilpa and Rasukutty from Super Deluxe have a heartwarming chat when the father comes out to his son as a trans woman. Anbarasu and Nallasivam from Anbe Sivam exchange their philosophical differences on a stone bench. Indra and Amudha from Kannathil Muthamittal share a vulnerable mother-daughter of moment in the female version of the title song. While these iconic scenes from popular Tamil films are celebrated for the subtle sentiments they evoke among cinema buffs, artist Maheshwari expresses her interpretation of them on canvas through her faceless portraits. 

“Is the face really important to convey the emotions,” she asks. “Sketching facial features is not my forte. As you study these sketches closely, you recognise them by the actors and the impact they left on you while watching the film, right? Although there’s no face to any of these characters in my artworks, their features like spectacles, curly hair, beard... are all highlighted. That’s what sets my artworks apart. Personally, it’s also about embracing incompleteness,” she details.

An engineer by day and artist by night, it’s been over four years since Maheshwari started sketching. “It was a friend’s stencil art of a football player that inspired me. When I tried my hand at it, I realised that I could draw too. I started replicating scenes from movies, a subject close to my heart, on canvas. I may not be that big a movie buff but films speak aesthetically to me. If a specific scene from a film is hard-hitting then it stays in my head. My first sketch was a scene from the song Vennilave Vennilave. I wanted to recreate the chemistry between the couple on a canvas,” she shares.

Also read: Meet Shankar, the 45-year-old who serves coffee during the day and draws satirical cartoons by the evening

Our favourite pick from her series of artworks — on her official Instagram page @theshadesplay — is a series titled, The powerful women in Cinema. Kaira, played by Alia Bhatt in Dear Zindagi; Rani, played by Kangana Ranaut in Queen; Manju, played by Sripriya in Aval Appadithan; Vembu, played by Samantha in Super Deluxe; Amritha, played by Taapsee Pannu in Thappad... are a few female on-screen characters in her artworks. “Some characters compel you to recreate and cherish them in an art form. You have to be a fan of a film to do justice to it. Watching films and characters on-screen leaves a different impact on me, but sketching hits me on a different level. It lets me introspect the scene/moment/character further,” enthuses Maheshwari.

Why cinema? “Honestly, I wasn’t sure about the theme when I started. But, when the artworks received an encouraging response from followers, it gave me the confidence to produce more film-related works. Cinema speaks to everyone and there’s nobody who dislikes it. Over time, my journey with art has changed the way I look at cinema,” she explains.

The artist has been taking up orders for merchandise such as bookmarks, postcards and notebooks. “It’s amusing to find some people reaching out to me even for faceless portraits of their friends and family. I’m glad that people are now open to appreciating someone beyond their face value. Most of the inspirations for my sketches also come from my followers, who pour in suggestions. I hope to experiment with different mediums of art,” she sums up.