New Delhi: The search for peace and inner awakening is the quest of every thinking soul. A state where one is at peace with one’s environment and with one’s self, takes one to mendicants, tarot readers and to countless ashrams. Here is an artist who has the ability to peel off layers from what are seemingly mundane happenings to give us insight into a world full of colour,hope and meaning.
To artists, human awareness and consciousness change with the changing seasons. From across Oriental literature to the Zen masters, we come across poets who have attempted to tie down in words their understanding and interpretation of the seasons. Sidharth has deployed his own tools to get closer to the sublime.
Seasons on the pallette
Barah Maha has been a journey of comprehending the complex interplay of each season. A voyage of self discovery and realization, it is akin to the blooming of a flower. Sidharth feels that each individual has the capacity to see life differently. He feels that one must not lose that ability to think, view, experience novel and innovative sights and emotions for this alone will help life from not getting jaded, always retaining a magical quality.
His body of work reflects a uniquely biographical note of ‘the life force’ or ‘the way of life’. His choice of subjects, forms and colours, combined with the selection of appropriate materials, allows us a peep into the spiritual nature of life, where mind, body and soul coexist in harmony.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, its there in colour and all
The season of ‘chayet awastha’ is where one has quiet acceptance and awareness. This season gives the feeling of being complete paving the way for ‘Baisakh’. It is a double-edged sword that means ’Sona’ or gold in Prakrit language and ‘Mrityu’ or death in Pali language. In short, a season where life and death are simultaneous.
Jaith’ which literally meaning bigger also means Surya or the Sun at the peak of its glory inching its way closer to the earth. The artist identifies this heat burning with the heart and soul of an ambitious worldly man,emanating only scorching heat.
In the month of ‘Asaad’ ‘aasha hui’ or ‘hope arises’ that heat of Jaith burns up earth. This month brings the hope that soon the Gods above will relent and shower the earth with blessings. ‘Sawan’ infuses life by blessing the earth with rains.
‘Bhadon’ depicts duality of the season’s characteristics. Along with Sawan’s excitement, it witnesses thundering skies and lurking fear of the past. Now listen quietly as ‘Aasun’ makes you feel the quietness and calmness outside. The season makes you listen to your restless spirit, a moment of the stillness.
‘Katake’ or kartik clears the skies and brings in a soft and cool air. This is a time to deck-up the home. ‘Manghar’ is a period of searching, to be with one’s own self. The very moving of the birds towards their home and the skies beginning to get cold indicates it’s time to remain inside one’s own space.
‘Poukh’, a month for hibernation since birds have flown away and animals choose to sleep in and even mountains hide themselves under a blanket of snow.
Finally its time for ‘Maagh’ when seeds that were sown have sprouted and a new life has been born again. This is followed by the celebration of ‘Falgun’ when life blooms. A period of colour, music, hope and ecstacy-celebration of life in all its entirety.
Born in 1956, in Punjab Sidharth started painting signboards while still at school. He later progressed to learning the Thangka painting technique from Tibetan monks at Dharamshala where he spent six years. After his graduation from the College of Art in Chandigarh, he joined a group of painters called ’Solids’ and exhibited his ‘White Space’ series.
Sidharth, his hues and his canvas
Eager to learn different techniques, he studied glass blowing in Sweden, techniques of Madhubani painting, Kashmir papier mache crafts, and other South Asian and Oriental techniques from a variety of master craftsmen.
He authored ‘Neti Neti’ and made 15 documentary films on Indian temples, art and architecture. As an accomplished alchemist and conceiver of distinctive palettes, he produces his own pigments from natural vegetable sources, minerals, clays, organic chromatics and inorganic pigments.
With 18 solo shows tucked under his skillful painting armament, he has participated in as many as 108 group shows in India, UK, Sweden and USA since 1976.
He experiments with forms, colours, images and textures, both old and new, to tell his own story. These stories are often closely linked to classical Indian literature, folk ballads, mythology, music and poetry. His journey into mysticism began from early childhood. Zen, Sufism, Osho, Guru Granth Sahib, Tibetan Buddhism and the compassion of the Madonna are the many facets of religious thought that have influenced him.
There is a strong spiritual core, which is part of the fabric of his being, and this is reflected in all his paintings. His work is sophisticated yet intense are a rare cross-cultural success. Each painting is a personal and spiritual experience for the viewer, which, the artist hopes will help establish a universal understanding of human culture.
Brushes, rollers, styluses, pencils,
pens and a host of other implements find their place in his creative unfoldings. Sometimes he combines spatulas and ink transfer rubber rollers of diverse sizes and shapes, so consequently, the lines and compositions in his work reveal an astonishing breadth of detail and narrative iconography.
After a long wait Sidharth is finally at peace with himself. Painting quietly in his studio from morning till late into the night at times—grinding minerals, extracting colours from fruits, flowers and bark, at one with nature. At times he is busy telling a story to the little child laughing in his lap, his baby girl, his beautiful, friendly wife, also a trained artist, keeping him company—creating creations. It is this sense of calm that pervades his studio.
The “Barah Maha”or “Seasons: Twelve Months” comes up for viewing in a London gallery, Art Pilgrimage from 17 May to 4 June. The preview of Sidharth’s works was on at the Oberoi earlier this week. Also one of his creations will go under Sotheby’s hammer at an art auction on 24 May in London.