As anyone who writes about film online knows, Girish Shambu's eponymous blog is the water cooler for discussing film. His site is the fulcrum of democratized film criticism. One of my first five links to The Evening Class, I continue to frequent Girish's blog on a daily basis out of sheer interest but also to humble myself. Just when I think I know anything about film, all I have to do is read Girish's erudite posts and the ensuing commentary he solicits and inspires to remind myself that the learning curve is constant, and how appropriate that is when it comes to informing oneself about film.
But along with all the informed and inspired writing, Girish characterizes his site by offering up his own unique drawings. I've grown quite fond of them and decided—since lists are all the rage these last few days of 2006—that I'd choose my ten favorite Girish drawings and gallery them here on The Evening Class. This was more difficult than first imagined and anyone who's intrigued should really give themselves an idle hour to peruse his archives to take a look at what is becoming one of his strong self-expressions, along with his gift for camaraderie, his educational skills, his jazz musicianship, his film writing and his art.
I like his non-figurative object drawings the best. With crisp, clean lines Girish captures the simple essence of form. I guess it should be no surprise, then, that I was first drawn to the implements of that capture: a fountain pen, a detail of a fountain pen, and the whittled stub of a pencil. These three images are intriguingly intertextual, implying not only writing but drawing.
His textured instruments come next; first a scaled guitar, then a striped sax. I've never heard Girish's music but these drawings imply a sense of pattern and texture. Which leads me to add that another resonance to Girish's blog is his frequent allusions to music, which serve to complement his meditations on film.
Next, come the lamps. One a kerosene lamp and the other a lava lamp. They reference his ability to illuminate in various ways.
Next, a wine bottle limned by shadow. One imagines two glasses and an animated conversation tucked away in some urban watering hole.
Finally, a rising sun and a palm tree composed of circles. They're comparable in design for me and insinuate each other. The circular energy of the sun is within the tree. Endendros, the Greeks would call it, the life at work in the tree, that which animates and provides life force. I'm reminded of that beautiful portrait Caravaggio has of Dionysos, supine, Asian, autumn-colored grape leaves in his hair, and a glass of wine in his hand. In the wine, concentric rings, generating from his sheer energy. That Dionysian enthusiasm is everywhere present in Girish Shambu's output: in his writing, music, conversation, and drawings. We all feel it. Like vibrations in wine.