ARCHANA BAHL SAPRA (2012)
Jyotirgamaya: Mystical Art of Surekha Sadana
A colorful spread of paintings in a meditative medley surrounds the new body of Surekha Sadana’s art-scape. ‘Jyotir gamaya’ leading one from darkness to light and from untruth to truth; reveals something of her personal ideologies and pre-occupation with issues and assumptions about faith, belief, meditation, spirituality, and harmony. Inundated with tantric and other iconic symbols as visual metaphors, her artwork appears in a tactile interplay of spaces and symbols in acrylics using meditative symphony of brush strokes in her colourful compositions. There appears a merging of spirituality with functionality and craftsmanship with philosophical layering in her spiritually infused creations that also attempt to fathom what life and universe is all about. ‘For me, art is all about spirituality, being free, letting go, and most importantly, it is a way to give more to the world around me’, declares the artist who sees herself as integral to the society and the world around. A meditative and spiritual person herself, art for her is about self discovery, a source of inspiration, and a means of communication- rolled into one. Contemplative and meditative in turn, her art sprinkled with droplets of tantric symbols offers the viewer a glimpse of the spiritual bent of her mind. Her assimilated ideas get echoed in her mystical compositions. The layering of metaphors in the construction of paintings coupled with recurring motifs and colours that have caught the artist’s fancy since the early phase of her work make a prominent appearance in her current repertoire. These features coupled with her passion for design and tantric symbolism that inhabit her painterly surfaces lend them a meditative and therapeutic stance. The ethereal imagery at places seems to run adrift floating between spirituality and sexuality occasionally meandering through abstraction and surrealist strokes. When life is shaken and when outer supports threaten to fall, mankind is known to withdraw its gaze inwards. It is then that belief in Tantra and Yantra symbols goes even stronger.
These metaphors are also used in an abstract fashion as a play of geometric patterns lending the imagery a neo tantric flavour. The triangle stands for spiritual elevation and its apex pointing north, symbolizes the origin and destination of every soul. The spiritual journey is taken as a pilgrimage in which every step is an ascent to the center, a movement beyond one’s limited existence, and nearer the ultimate goal of nirvana. Her figurative work, including ‘Uthaan’ represents universe of Shiva-Shakti as cosmic energy for enlightenment.Influence of some of the Indian masters who have inspired the artist, is also evident in her work. Raza’s rudiments of Tantrism and his use of scriptural texts,some of which surfaces in some of her paintings.
Surekha’s current work appears more mature and measured in carefully planned compositions. Engaged with social causes, and seeking peace to comfort the soul, she has a distinctive meditative stance as reflected in the rich tapestry of images, ideas and expressions inundated with playful and textured Tantric forms. The contemplative signs and symbols adorn a contemporary blend of pleasing and happy notes. The literature built around the works is philosophical, and for their visual values, as the artist refrains from attempting to revive traditional Tantric diagrammatic language in her art. In a mix of geometry forms and mystical metaphors, there is also assimilation of figures, their tonal gradation and textural treatment that comes from hard work and improvisation. It seems to radiate with a simple and neutral power, as it also retains its innocence and spontaneity. Surekha’s creative track has been constantly evolving, meandering away from pure figuration, to semi realism and then into somewhat conceptual renderings and experimentation with an introspective perspective in a different palette and imaging finally arriving at this geometric and symbol immersed collage. Within a philosophical grounding, her paintings enter the metaphysical realms to focus on relationship between man and the source of endless aesthetic energy that vibrates the world. The art for her is not merely a representation of spirituality- it is a lived means and natural resource that responds to an inner quest.
In search of the divine…
The artist’s renderings in a Sufi stance in this suite appear with intricate jali and stained glass like detailing around a Mughal architectural backdrop. The bright colours and the play of light endow the work with luminosity. The Whirling Dervish Sufi saint is seen as if in a trance. The artist captures his movements in her meditative brush strokes that carry us seamlessly into a mystical realm. The body moves in still-consciousness, becoming one with the universe where there is no separation between the self and the world. The meditative and mesmerizing still imagery on the canvas en-captures the viewer and his attention.
Archana B Sapra is a Delhi based professionally qualified architect and independent arts consultant..