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The luminous and tranquil androgynous faces of the Buddha are set amid a chiaroscuro of bold colours—brick red, neon blue, electric orange—on canvases encased in golden frames. Step closer, and Shampa Sircar Das’ works urge you to investigate further.

Kumar Gallery, one of the oldest art galleries in the Capital, is hosting a fortnight-long solo show of Sircar Das’ works, titled Confluence Of Consciousness. The exhibition features 22 works in acrylic, each imbued with mythological motifs from the Buddhist and Vedic pantheons in layers of impasto. “My travels (to Ladakh and Spiti in the Himalayas for the current work) make me see and experience the smallest of things radiating with energy. The images, frescoes, conversations, the vast spaces of land, nature’s fleeting moments, any inspiring thought or article that I read on Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, all lead to an idea or a visual image of what I want to depict," says the artist. The process is meditative, she claims, and with each layer her vision gets clearer. “I first render the canvas with a textured layer and then images and forms begin to take shape."

Sircar Das’ work , ‘Dharmakaya’
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Sircar Das’ work , ‘Dharmakaya’

Like the late Russian painter Nicholas Roerich, she borrows imagery from Tibetan sacred art, especially the symbology of Vajrayana Buddhism. Chants in Tibetan and Tankri text, seen inscribed on bells, prayer wheels and rock walls, make their way into her paintings, lending them a totemic quality; the matsya or pair of fish, which appear in two untitled works and in Concurrent Reflections, denote fertility; the shankha (conch) in Endless blows out the primeval sound, while the swirls—evocative of the Ajanta caves—depict clouds and eternal waters. The circle, depicting the mandala or the universe, and the pink lotus are some of the striking imagery in her works.

Her work is a confluence of opposites: night and day, black and white, light and dark, sun and moon, male and female, negative and positive, perception and realization, and self (a concept borrowed from the Advaita Vedanta) and non-self (a Buddhist concept). “To me these are parts of the puzzle we call life, pulsating with energy," says Sircar Das.

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Sircar Das’ work, ‘Mirror Of Our True Nature’

“The forms, images, iconic symbols play around in my canvas to weave a story of their own and remind us of the power of silence and insight, where negative and positive coexist but it is left to us to harness what we can," says the artist, who now plans to explore other mediums.

Confluence Of Consciousness is on show till 15 May, 11am-7pm, at Kumar Art Gallery, 56, Sunder Nagar, New Delhi. The works are priced at 1 lakh-4 lakh. Click here for details.

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