Artist Aparna Bidasaria’s Meditations on the Banyan Tree Becalm a Chaotic City

Uma Nair-curated ‘Time and Being’ travelling exhibition comes to
Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery for final leg

Mumbai, Aug 16: Into the hustle and bustle of life in a metropolis come the soothing, poetic reflections on the majestic Banyan Tree; on canvas it stands, in various hues and shades, in many seasons, with rustling leaves and tangled roots, in meditative stillness.


Indore-based artist Aparna Bidasaria’s “Time and Being” is a unique exhibition of around 35 paintings in colour and monochrome, all centered on the Banyan Tree, a subject that has fascinated her since her childhood. After winning critical acclaim in Bhopal and Delhi, it has now come on its final leg to the Jehangir Art Gallery (Hijri Gallery) in Mumbai where it will run until August 20.


An artist inspired by the impressionists and expressionists like Van Gogh, Seurat and Jackson Pollock, Aparna’s own style is marked by abstraction, simplicity and compositional harmony in the technique of pointillism that she employs.


Renowned artist Brinda Miller, who opened the exhibition on Monday (August 14), said the technique imbued Aparna’s work with spontaneity. “It has given her a way to take the work the way she wants to without really having to plan it too much. I just love the textures, and I love how she has used nature, because it is something I identify with completely,” she said.


Brinda also praised the artist’s use of colour schemes, the dark blues, the reds and the “sudden highlights of red and orange”, which, she said, make the works “very attractive”.


Noted scholar and critic Uma Nair, who has curated the exhibition, said Mumbai was a befitting conclusion to the travelling show and the Jehangir Art Gallery an experience that every artist must have.


“It is a place with great legacy and history; where artists have shown their works and got themselves on the art world map,” she said. “Even M F Hussain began by doing shows here and one has read and learnt beautiful stories about Cafe Samovar and how the artists would get together and they would talk about art. So in terms of movement for an artist, it is like a milestone. When you have exhibited in Delhi, in Bhopal and Indore, I think Mumbai becomes the place that wraps up your chapter.”


Aparna thinks the iconic gallery, “as old and as charismatic as the banyan tree”, is the “perfect finale” to her exhibition.


“Starting the show from Bhopal (Bharat Bhavan) and then to Delhi (Shridharani Art Gallery), the response to my works has been beyond my imagination. The positive energy I have got from artists, critics and people in general has given me immense strength,” noted Aparna, who graduated from Sophia College, Mumbai and then did post-graduation in Drawing & Painting from D.A.V.V, Indore.


The Banyan Tree has been a lingering childhood fascination for her.  “The magic of the banyan never ceases to amaze me; it is now embedded in my artistic sensibility and craft. I want to tell the world that there is an organic interconnectedness between humans and Nature. When people see my work and stay silent for minutes, I know they are feeling my art,” said Aparna, who uses clay, charcoal, pastel, ink and acrylic as medium to capture the tree in time zone of sunrises and sunsets.


Curator Uma Nair also noted that the works are unique in that these are based on a single tree. “I don’t think anybody has ever attempted to portray the banyan in so many moods and facets on the canvas,” she said. “It’s like meditations on the banyan tree.” 


Aparna constructs in her paintings a unique surreal universe in which the banyan evokes a enjoyable simplicity, and it embodies the ancient belief in the Puranas of the conception of man in unity with nature.


The splendored banyan is an exceptionally refined example of Aparna’s career, and a culmination of her artistic journey across styles, techniques and subjects, the curator said. “It is also a metaphor for her feelings about being an artist, her aspirations for spiritual odysseys as well as her sense of isolation and solitude. In the process, she creates an art that transcends national and cultural boundaries and attracts audiences in both the East and the West.”


Aparna’s works have also been exhibited at AIFACS, Delhi; India Art Festival, Mumbai; and Pritam Lal Dua Gallery, Indore. The upcoming exhibition in Mumbai promises to be an enchanting and unpretentious showstopper in the chaotic hubbub of the metropolis.





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