Tales in Gold

Artist Seema Kohli uses brilliance of gold and silver leafs in her artworks to contain the philosophy of life

Published: 21st February 2017 10:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd February 2017 03:59 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Homer wrote: “The Temple of Solomon was  profusely gilt.” Gold, the colour of the divine, royals; the shade of creativity, of Klimt. The hue of Hiranyagarbha, the womb of cosmos. A shade which leads to the golden womb – the source of all energies, the depth containing all creative dimensions in their
exactitude. The metaphor for metaphysical implications, the immeasurable well from which gushes forth the femininity in its exalted form – the golden womb which uncurls sagas of time and timelessness. And when the same is created with gold leaves much like what used to be done during the reign of Pharaohs and Caesars the meaning of universal source of muse becomes even more significant.

In ancient times the maestroes used only the precious metal and gems in their opuses and in the changing times the artists chose golden paints instead of the pure metal. Delhi-based artist Seema Kohli celebrates the cosmic energy and pays tribute to its femininity of Indian mythological narratives using gold and silver leaves in her artworks. Her exhibition of paintings and sculptures titled ‘Golden Womb – Dawn of Time’ is ongoing at Kalakriti Art Gallery. The exhibition will be on till April 5.

Her canvases are elaborate, but contain a harmony that keeps other elements intact within the same periphery, culminating into three dimensions of past, present and future. The rhetoric, thus, produced is rendered to a finesse that only comes with expertise, polished with time and master strokes that explore the opportunities a blank canvas offers. And for Seema the canvas talks to her. She gives herself to it, dives deep into the curvature of the dots and retrieves a continuity that seems to be disappearing into the dystopian topographies and yet maintains the purity of art. The opuses transcend the continuity of life that flushes in the never-ending cosmic dimensions. That’s how one sees the perfection of lines in her works that connect different layers of mental landscape. This becomes  explicit especially when she paints on one of her acrylic canvas several banyan trees connected to the world around while a woman reads a book lying on her stomach.

In another art work ‘Pour me a dream’ the crockery of life seems to be arranged amid a neat chaos of mortals, the combination of gold and silver leaf enhances the mythical elements so finely blended with other hidden undertones. But how does the artist infuse the precious leaves so smoothly in her paintings? She smiles and shares, “I started to use them in their pure form way back in 2007 after I came back from Rome where I saw so much of work done in gold leaf. I begin painting my canvas with the verse: ‘Guru shukra… namah’; Shukra, the lord of luxury is silver in colour, while the sun god is in gold. And it is the talk of Truth which emerges.” She uses white colour on her canvas, puts a silver leaf, deoxidises so that it doesn’t become dark. In many of her artworks the gold or silver leaf remains buried under layers hardly giving an inkling to the beholders what precious  things are under the surface. “But a lot of people tell me that the artwork has a different kind or resplendence as if lit with something within its layers,” shares Seema.  

She is also a poet and her works are an expression of poetry
blended with the philosophy she follows. She elaborates, “I offer the complete submission of my being to the blank canvas. I am enticed by the Devi who is formless and is the Truth herself. For me what works is ‘Sarva Khalbatam Brahman – the dance of total consciousness. It’s a celebration of Life. The festival of femininity. It’s an extension of love, existence and maya which is universal and we can’t stop the same even if we want to.”
For the self-taught artist art is like air, crossing all boundaries which is pure consciousness. That’s how she did a work on celebrated Sufi saint Bulleh Shah which was commissioned to her by a Punjabi family. “I was fascinated by his verses and his qawwalis. My canvas sort of welcomed it,” she shares. A closer look at the work and one sees verses written in nastaliq which she painstakingly learnt to write.

Exploring Sufism she got fascinated by the great Sufi poet Rumi and wrote ayats from the Quran. Her work depicts the mystic philosopher poet with his back towards the beholder watching mountains on whose top rises the sun with the first kalima inscribed on it. “It’s Shams Tabrizi who inspires me more as I feel Rumi is a reflection of his Sufi master. Shams came in Rumi’s life to introduce him to the depths of mysticism,” she adds further.    It’s Raqs-e-Shams, ‘The Unending Dance of Light’ which attracts her the most the way a moth is drawn to the flame. “It is an unending dance of life, the dance of the sun where the energy just changes its form. It’s the renewal, the rejoice,” she signs out disappearing in the womb of gold the
artworks around her offer.


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