Surreal blend of nature and architecture

CE checks out the captivating world of artist Sweta Chandra’s ‘Paradoxical Paradise,’ a solo painting exhibition at the Chitramayee State Gallery of Art
Each painting combines animals, birds, flora, fauna, and architectural elements, with the stories lying in the personalised and straightforward presentation.
Each painting combines animals, birds, flora, fauna, and architectural elements, with the stories lying in the personalised and straightforward presentation.

HYDERABAD: Against a backdrop of blue sky and scattered clouds, architectural spaces blend seamlessly with nature as birds and animals move among them. Some clouds peek through windows while others drift through the scene. Flora and fauna add vibrant colours to this imaginative setting, captured on a canvas displayed at the Chitramayee State Gallery of Art. The captivating canvas, part of the solo painting exhibition ‘Paradoxical Paradise’ by Sweta Chandra, mesmerised spectators with its rich storytelling artistry.

Showcasing her colourful childhood memories, Sweta Chandra brings an imaginary world to life on canvas. Each painting combines animals, birds, flora, fauna, and architectural elements, with the stories lying in the personalised and straightforward presentation. Sharing her connection with nature, Sweta said, “From my childhood, I’ve been very closely in touch with nature because I live in a cantonment area. This army zone is abundant with greenery, and even though many flats are being constructed, I am fortunate to have a green space in front of my house, surrounded by trees and birds.”

“I’ve always felt a deep connection to the birds singing throughout the day. Even today, I hear the cuckoos cooing. My sensitivity to nature was further nurtured by my mother, who comes from a biology background. She would share her knowledge with me, explaining about flowers, and this nurtured my love for plants and nature from a young age. This deep attachment to nature influences my work,” she added.

Apart from nature, skies, and incomplete architectural space illusions, another prominent element in the 30 paintings displayed is staircases and shadows. Sweta denotes staircases as symbols of hope and shadows as lingering experiences. “My mother had schizophrenia, so she experienced hallucinations, seeing and responding to things that were invisible to me. This experience created a sense of illusion in my artworks. When I studied at art college, I came across the concept of surrealism and was fascinated by the idea that unseen or unheard elements could still exert a presence. My art often features incomplete forms and shadows that demarcate spaces. These shadows are not merely visual elements; they represent the lingering experiences and impressions that remain in our minds.”

Sweta explains that every form in her work, whether recognisable or abstract, carries a deeper meaning. “For instance, birds in my paintings symbolise freedom and the liberation of thoughts, similar to spreading wings and taking flight. Similarly, a deer represents the leaps we take in life, inspired by the graceful bounds of the animal. This blend of personal history and surrealistic elements shapes the unique spaces within my art, translating complex emotions and experiences into visual narratives.”

She elaborates that the process starts with creating a background, and slowly the elements or forms are carved out either by silhouetting the background or camouflaging them, creating a sense of incompleteness that unifies with distance, similar to nature and its beings. Though the medium is acrylic on canvas, she chooses to use it more like watercolours by creating layers.

“Living in a time with a hectic schedule, we all look forward to holidays in nature. I want my paintings to be the window to that desired, meditative surreal space, engaging the viewer to live an enriched, peaceful life amid their hectic lifestyle,” she concluded.

The exhibition is open until June 20.

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