Foliage fantasies

ByProma Chakraborty

Jun 28, 2019

Photography, paintings, ceramic ware – the works of 30 noted artists from across the country come together united by a common subject – trees

Aptly titled Vriksha, this exhibition is aimed at reminding the importance of maintaining a perfect balance between Nature and man.

“Botanic subject, poetic inspiration, natural emblems of poise and perfection — Vriksha is an exhibition that speaks of trees in the natural and human worlds. This exhibition of about 30 artists celebrates the eternal power of trees,” says Uma Nair, curator of the exhibition.

Putting together artworks in various mediums depicting different parts of the country, the exhibition is led by Jyoti Bhatt’s ideation for Kalpavriksha, the divine tree in all its manifestations, through a few intaglio prints specially loaned for the show, along with Arpana Caur’s painting Prayer for Trees.

As far as art on Nature is concerned, no exhibition would be complete without Gond art. A reflection of man’s close connection with his natural surroundings, the folk and tribal art of Gonds is depicted by the works of three Gond artists: Padmashri Bajju Shyam, Venkat Shyam and Japani Shyam present their tales through the imagery of trees and creatures.

The photography section is led by artist S Paul’s masterpiece of a tree canopy. It also features Karan Khanna’s capture of a scene in Srinagar and another by wildlife and landscape master Shyamal Datta who shared a surreal image from Kansas.

Bringing it closer to home, it displays an image of Sunder Nursery that unveils its importance in Delhi’s heritage. Taken by Rupin Thomas, the photo was captured after it was announced as one of best the places among 100 in the world by Time magazine.

The show features a series of ceramic artists too. It brings together works of the brilliant Vipul Kumar and his award-winning brother Nand Kishore from Jaipur, porcelain artist Saraswati Renata from Pondicherry, legendary Shampa Shah from Bhopal and Manjari Sharma from Delhi. Nair quotes marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who said that the real wealth of a nation “lies in the resources of the earth — soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife.”

According to Nair the show seeks to affirm that the nation’s welfare depends on healing the broken relationship between an economy and a broken ecology.

“A tree is much more than an economic resource. A tree is a symbol of the future of both man and nature. Vrisksha is about that imperative, the lives lived in trees that stand like sentinels through centuries. In last year’s debacle of the felling of trees in Delhi, this is an ode to the power and strength of nature. It is to bring alive the essence of ecology of man and nature living in harmony,” she adds.

Among other highlights is Himmat Shah’s tree drawings, and contemporary master Neeraj Goswami’s small painting created in dulcet yet fertile tones, as well as Seema Kohli’s Tree of life sculpture. Internationally famous photographer Soham Gupta, who has just returned from the Venice Biennale, has also shared a special image of Kolkata.

The exhibition is on display at the India International Centre till July 12