A landmark exhibition, which promises to enliven Delhi’s art scene and transport viewers into a world of spiritual calmness and intense reflection, has begun here with artist Aparna Bidasaria showcasing a tapestry of evocative paintings of the Banyan Tree, an enduring symbol of wisdom, protection, timelessness and civilisational antiquity.
Indore-based artist Aparna’s paintings, glimpsing the tree in the time zone of sunrises and sunsets over seasons, are being displayed at the exhibition, ‘Time and Being’, at Shridharani Art Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi.
Curated by noted art scholar and critic Uma Nair, the ten-day exhibition, which began last evening, has a total of 30 paintings in monochrome and colours that stand out for artistic exquisiteness, meditative quality and compositional harmony. It is both a visual grandeur and an experiential delight that compels the viewer’s attention on the entrancing nature of paintings.
For Aparna, the banyan is like a holy grail. “This tree has had a mesmerizing impact on me since my childhood. It gives a perspective of life and I have always had an overpowering itch for its articulation. I have now tried to express it through my paintings on softer palettes,” said the artist, who uses charcoal, pastel, ink and acrylic as medium to capture the banyan in its myriad hues.
“The banyan tree has many stories to tell us, the leaves whispering the tales…the branches intertwine like dancers explaining those lores, the roots moving to the music of the wind, talking to it,” explained Aparna, whose works have been shown at AIFACS, Delhi; India Art Festival, Mumbai; Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal and Pritam Lal Dua Gallery, Indore.
Adwaita Gadanayak, Director General, National Gallery of the Modern Art (NGMA), who was the chief guest, said Aparna’s paintings are a celebration of the power of Nature in an aesthetic manner. “Nature is powerhouse. We need to go back to it to learn more. It is interesting to know that Bruce Lee learnt his martial arts from water…. Trees are like messengers of our prayers to the Supreme Power,” he noted.
The April 17-26 exhibition was first held at Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal in February with lesser number of entries. It is set for a replication, with some more additions, at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai from August 14.
On the occasion, a catalogue of the paintings was released by Gadanayak; Savi Savarkar, Head of Applied Arts, College of Art, Delhi; and Alok Kumar, solicitor.
Curator Uma Nair said it is rare to find artworks based on a single tree as the art world is largely obsessed with figurative works. “It is absolutely unique. I don’t think anybody has ever attempted to portray the banyan in so many facets with such an aesthetic sensibility on the canvas,” she noted.
Aparna’s paintings are like a meditation on the banyan tree. “Her works talk to you about the everlasting power of trees, which stand like sentinels of time. The tree not only sustains us but also gives us fodder for all kinds of art, be it music, painting, sculpture or literature,” the curator said.
Aparna expresses through her art the unique heritage and the natural spirit that could be found in the rural elegance of the banyan. The depiction of the spread out form, in particular, stands out as a symbol of fertility, the longevity of the family of trees, and a close relationship with the land’s tales and tradition, she explained.
Installation artist Puneet Kaushik said Aparna’s paintings are defined by a sense of abstraction, openness and pointillism. “Through her paintings, she talks about Nature in an extremely refined sensibility. All artists have their own uniqueness. Aparna’s uniqueness lies in her robustly creative obsession with the Banyan tree and nature,” he observed.
The banyans of Aparna, who has been painting for the past ten years, have also an urbane feel and manifest a startling modernity that looks more at abstract expressionism, bringing to mind techniques of surrealist photography.
She also uses the tree as a metaphor for her spiritual odysseys as well as her sense of solitude. In doing so, she creates an art that transcends national and cultural boundaries and attracts audiences in both the East and the West.
“The splendored banyan is a testament to her continued search for her own cultu
ral foundations in which the banyan is considered both sacred and profane and also the tree of enlightenment,” Uma Nair said.
The exhibition concludes on April 26.
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