KOCHI: A woman stands in front of a mirror. In the reflection, flowers adorn her face. Her petite shoulders carry a certain weight. In the mirror, she is trying to find someone or something worthy of love. Flowers bloom from the battle scars all over her body, making her whole again. Their petals are vibrant, colourful and hopeful, though the frame is in monochrome. Garden of Thoughts by Sreejith P A dwells deeply into our minds, how we see ourselves.
Sreejith started making artworks that pertain to the mental health of people almost two years ago after the pandemic broke out. He is continuing with it albeit facing challenges, out of the firm belief that art can unite communities. From Garden of Thoughts, one of his first series to Excerpts From A Journal, a long, continuous, line of artworks, he has influenced many people to emerge from their inner struggles.
“I had the idea to start Excerpts From A Journal at the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone around me was finding themselves in a tough spot, it was a collective trauma. The series was a way for me to let out my emotions, and connect with the feelings of those around me,” says Sreejith. He announced the series on his Instagram page on March 19, 2020, from his apartment in Bengaluru.
“I didn’t have many expectations. But soon people started reaching out through the mail. Many shared their deepest thoughts and experiences. Sometimes I worry about the morality of it all. Am I using these incredible personal experiences of many individuals to further my art? But narrating and depicting their survival kept me going. For many, it was therapeutic to see themselves that way. For others, it was a realisation that they are not alone,” he shares.
However, reading about immense trauma constantly affected him. “I may get one or two journal entries every month that shock me to my core. It was difficult to not get affected by them,” he shares. So, Sreejith took brief pauses over the two years. But he keeps at it, creating a community that is tender about mental health problems.
The 27-year-old artist, who has a BTech in automobile engineering, picked up the pencil during college. “It was a difficult time. I hated it,” he quips. “I started my Instagram page soon. I started with portraits, simple works,” says Sreejith. He briefly tried animation and started attending a course. Though he dropped out of it soon, that’s where he learnt designing aspects and the basics of digital arts.
After experimenting with different styles and subjects, he found his comfort in portraying human emotions. He makes people in black and white but accompanied by bright accessories, like flowers. A togetherness of vulnerability and healing. Butterflies, flowers and old cassettes with memories are some objects he constantly uses in his works.
Beginning of many things
The 27-year-old artist, who has a BTech in automobile engineering, picked up the pencil during college. He had the idea to start Excerpts From A Journal at the beginning of the pandemic.