Right through the ages, the Tree of Life has been a recurring concept in cultures across the world, a symbolic motif with religious or philosophical bearings. In India, the Tree of Life or Kalpavriksha is found in Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain texts.
This week, MKF Museum of Art and ArtenBlu present Kalpavriksha – an exhibition based on this theme. Curated by Sadhna Menon, this show comprises works of art by seven artists with diverse renderings of the same notion.
“Reviving art forms deeply rooted in traditional culture has always been a fascinating and empowering endeavour. This year, rediscovering another art form textile art, using traditional techniques with contemporary ideas is a continuation of this creative journey. The Tree of Life is universal in almost all cultures and was chosen as a central theme,” says Sadhna, founder of ArtenBlu, an art consultancy firm based out of Bengaluru.
Sachin Deo, one of the participating artists, who has been working on mythological and spiritual themes for over decades now says for this particular exhibition, he has expressed himself with paper folding and embossing.
“I believe these pieces convey various stages of spiritual growth. I have been readying these three-dimensional forms over the past six months,” says Sachin. Originally from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, the artist who now lives in Pune, says, “My early palette was usually mild and minimalistic even when depicting mythological aspects. My work reflects spirituality and contentment in this space. Though I have always used various media, I have only recently begun experimenting with embossing and paper techniques.”
Artist Varsha Patra has depicted the Tree of Life using Aari (also called Khatla) embroidery techniques. “I have interpreted the concept ‘Tree of Life’ differently in various pieces. The idea, format, theory, design, colours are largely inspired by the traditional crafts of our country. The same goes for their execution. It is purely the age-old technique of khatla hand embroidery that I use to create my ideas from concept to fabric.”
Abstractionist V Hariraam, who is also one of the artists at the show, says he does favour giving “a certain amount of figuration, if not a detailed bearing,” to his art expression. “As an abstract painter who evolved from figuration, I am displaying two works with reference to the Tree of Life, while my fellow artist AM Prakash is presenting line drawings that add decorative and design value,” says Hariraam.
The Bengaluru-based artist who studied at the Kalamandir School of Art, a 100-year-old art establishment, was schooled by its founder AN Subbarao. “I began working with oils and then later moved to acrylics; over time I have worked with watercolours, charcoal and pencil on paper and canvas. I am also an installation artist using wood and fibreglass as well as a graphic print maker.”
Hariraam has submitted miniatures using watercolours on archival paper for this exhibition; he created them during the pandemic.
“Seven artists have created a phenomenal body of work drawing inspiration from the Tree of Life, experimenting with different mediums bringing a classic yet modern twist to the theme,” says Sadhna.
Apart from Sachin Deo, V Hariraam and AM Prakash, Varsha Patra, Manjunath Wali, Mohan Vijaya Raghavan and Choti Tekam will be exhibiting their art at Kalpavriksha.
Kalpavriksha – Tree of Life will be on view from October 13-22 at MKF Museum of Art from 11am to 6.30pm, on all days except Mondays.