Artists get the most universal epiphanies at the easel. Painter Abhishek Singh’s insights about the mysteries of Nature turned him into a storyteller of trees. The result is ‘Vrikshadootam’, a work that portrays trees as saviours of the planet and preservers of the human race.
Anguish comes alive in the work which is part of the group exhibition ‘Message from the Trees’, on till September 10 at Ojas Art Gallery, New Delhi.
Being the only outsider in the group of Gond painters is proof of his passion for conservation. The exhibition visualises the protection of trees through the telling of Gond tribal legends.
It could be a fancy that he achieved artistic enlightenment under an ancient Banyan tree at the gallery. “My trees reflect the echoes that are collected in my mind through the years. I feel Nature’s lessons and intentions came together strongly to give birth to my work.
Unfortunately, the connection between them and us has been lost. I hope to be a humble messenger of all that I’ve learnt from the immense wisdom of trees,” says the 37-year-old Singh, a NID graduate in animation and film design.
The versatile Singh is deeply connected with Nature. He launched his book Namaha: Stories from the land of Gods and Goddesses on August 30. He volunteers with elephants; it is his dream to adopt Suzie, the old blind elephant he met while volunteering at Wildlife SOS, a rescue and rehabilitation organisation for the denizens of the forest. Singh holds storytelling sessions in schools about travels to the Himalayas. He is driven to understand the relationship between plants and soil—the yin and yang of Nature.
The portrait of the artist as a young naturalist began with his distress at man’s devastation of the environment, especially trees. He took to the medium he knows best, art. He began to script a visual narrative to translate his torment on canvas. “I don’t want it to become yet another social awareness campaign. I am using art as a creative catalyst to force people to think.
My mural depicts stories of the ecosystem and the absolute need to protect, nurture and preserve it,” he says. The non-tech process of creation had intrigued him because there was no CTRL+Z. “There was no going back, so I just kept going. Sadhana connects my spectators to the celebration of Nature,” he says.
He is deeply impressed by the traditional arts, especially Thangka. It is a distinctive feature of his style, evident in Vrikshadootam, which merges mythology with art. “Ecology and mythology are inseparable. Trees and animals play an important role in our epics even as they are mutually exclusive in character,” says Singh.
His art leads us to contemplate the stories of the seers and healers in Indian civilisation, who considered Nature as the source of sagacity. “It is a moral compass that revealed the hidden connections between the human world and elements of the ecosystem. The intrinsic bond between trees and animals is the key to understanding ourselves, which is why Nature symbolism is pivotal in universal myths and folklore. Like ‘Tree of Life’ is the symbol of immortality. Now that wisdom is on the brink of being lost,” he adds.
‘Vrikshadootam’ is a message from the tongueless trees and from Singh. It speaks volumes about the dangers of human greed consuming the ecosystem.
When & Where
Venue: Ojas Art, Mehrauli, Delhi
Time: 11 am to 7 pm
Till: September 10