Countless visitors to Paris have taken pictures of Eiffel Tower, one of Europe’s most recognizable icons. When Shibu Arakkal’s latest solo show is termed Eiffel O’Seven, it is bound to be all about Eiffel Tower. And so it is. You can see glimpses of the tower in simple montages, layers, mirrored as well as over-contrasted images.

Shibu, whose work has featured at several galleries abroad as well as India, has told a monochromatic tale of the Eiffel Tower, capturing it in an oriental manner. Shibu notes that his inspiration for the show was the Japanese printmakers. “The photographs show an oriental treatment of a European subject. Stark white over-contrasted skies taking in swift decisive strokes of what seems must have come from a Samurai’s Katana (a single edged Japanese sword) form outlines for what is essentially a European icon,” he explains.

Thus, the repetitive appearance of the ‘crosshatched lines’ of the Eiffel in white spaces in his ‘appointed colour palette that punctuates the graphic monochromes’ offer an interesting viewpoint. There has been an effort to juxtapose fragments of the Eiffel to form unexpected patterns which, among other things, display the photographer’s obvious delight creating them.

Shibu’s tryst with the Eiffel began in 2007, hence the show’s title, although a brief visit in 1998 had left him, as he says, “overwhelmed. For someone who came from India, I felt I wasn’t going to be easily overwhelmed by most things in Europe, especially architecture. And even though I stayed in Paris for just two days and missed seeing most of it, the Eiffel firmly found a place in my imagination for a long time.” It is this imagination that has given the pictures of Eiffel O’Seven a dramatic yet stark undercurrent.

Jayanthi Madhukar
Shibu ArakkalEiffel O’Seven – Reviews