The art of Siva Pillay is a primitive theatre remarkable as much because of what is absent as what is present. He has two main styles of painting distinct in form, content and materials - empty black and white stages with professional acrylic and ordinary house paints and a carnival of figures dancing made from colourful water based paints on paper. He also has a wide variety of lithographs that show another aspect of his vision.
In some paintings he depicts open spaces and empty chairs in front of archways showing the empty halls in black and white with crude unfinished stokes of paint. His sparse use of bold reds gives his paintings a depth and perspective that underscores the absence of any players. There is a texture to his work that stems from his experiments with the use of ordinary house paint alongside acrylic paint and graphite pencil. The stark black and white abstract his scenes making them familiar and yet otherworldly -- like no place anyone has ever been. He paints them on wood, canvas and a variety of papers.
The paintings where figures are present, could not be more different. In them we see the colour - vibrant yellows, reds and blues - a pageant of primitive melodrama, dancing, holding hands, embracing. These are water-based paintings on paper with vibrant colours. There is often placid ecstasy along with forlorn figures of sadness. He tries to capture the simplicity of emotion and movement.
His lithographs are significantly more detailed and the figures more representative. He has nudes together in embrace and costumed Brahmins in front of decorate backdrops. Even though they are printed in black and white, they are a sharp contrast to the sparseness of his later work.
- PT McGuire