Odyssey to Art
by Teesha Kooraram
Kimi Shaabi is an artist based in Singapore who “was drawn into the artistic world.” A counsellor by profession and an artist by passion, she opted to be a self-taught artist which later translated into something quintessential that she applies via interdisciplinary agencies like art therapy.
Twenty-three years ago, Kimi qualified herself for a marketing profession, but that soon took a backseat to motherhood which ultimately became her primary career. In a twist of fate, Kimi found herself immersed in psychology after a chance poolside chat with her friends nudged her down that path, turning it into her second career.
A friend’s invitation to an art fair in 2015 was the start of Kimi’s artistic journey. As she took in the scene and indulged her attraction towards colours, she gradually evolved her artistic trifles into something meaningful. Soon after that show, her husband’s cancer diagnosis and his passing devastated Kimi. To take back the reins of her life, she used art as a medium to travel through this tumultuous period. Art became a distraction as well as a safe haven for her. It was an avenue for her to reinvent herself and invoke playfulness, excitement, and peace in her life once more.
“I am exhilarated by history, have a love for stories, intrigued by old architecture, enjoy travel and photography, and am constantly fascinated by the works of great artists. And of course, my rich Indian heritage has everything to do with my love for vibrant hues!”
Kimi distinguishes herself as a wandering artist in search of experiences and stories to bring home with her. Like a journey towards unknown destinations, she allows herself to be swayed by her unpredictable imagination every time she lays her first stroke. Although spontaneous, Kimi’s fascination with architecture and love of nature invariably intertwine to produce multifaceted works with mixed-media elements within her compositions. While she prefers to work with acrylics, Kimi is no layman in her use of watercolours, Gelatos, and alcohol inks on substrates like canvas, paper, and wood. Her final presentations are often adorned with gold, silver, or copper leaves, resulting in a luminescence that invite a closer appreciation of the works.
In a world charged with possibilities and opportunities, artists are well versed in finding beauty in their simplest forms, then amplifying them to their full potential. While the concept of beauty may be a personal construct embellished by a myriad of perceptions, art is almost always the extroverted expression of an inner journey that is both liberating and healing. Kimi’s experience with art varies across the days – some exhilarating, others meditative. It is within the stillness of those meditative moments that she finds the serenity and clarity which she can channel towards her counselling work. The therapeutic process explores possibilities to heal without judgement and empower individuals through their inherent abilities, just as she found solace and strength in art while coming through the difficult phases in her life. This is why Kimi is convinced that an engagement with introspection is paramount for individuals to overcome personal challenges.
Kimi believes that art is a derivation of the soul. She perceives art as a gift to her from the universe, and it is gratitude that inspires her to paint. The present should be appreciated, as life is of a fickle nature. While counselling has given her life purpose, wanting to leave a legacy through her art is what spurs Kimi to produce something that will outlive us. After all, for any artist, the indulgence of creating is an enrapturing process, as the once unimaginable gradually materialises into a form of beauty that can be shared by many.