Salonika Meattle Aggarwal is a florophile. The Delhi based artist, whose show ‘Nature’s Mystique – Fauna and Flora’ that turned the viewing space of the elegant Bikaner House inflorscent thinks her perfumed and colour laden subjects hold a power that goes deeper than the surface appeal of a bloom. It is their “positive energy” that Aggarwal has explored in her first-ever solo exhibition of over 20 paintings. It is a repertoire that combines two of her greatest passions—environment and spirituality.
“Flowers are symbols. Every plant has its own unique meaning,” Aggarwal says mysteriously, as if explaining the symbolism of flowers in bringing “positive-chi energy” to the areas where they are placed. The works appear like a close-up of a densely green canvassed, peppered with flowers of all kinds, and in myriad colours. Aggarwal calls her over two decade-long genre “botanical art”, inspired by various elements of Nature. It is a garden on canvas—a profusion of dahlias, peace lilies, carnations, roses, hibiscus in a state of open glory.
The intricacy of her strokes is evident in the way she layers the leaves with bamboo, frangipani, monstera, dracaena, and palms amidst which she has hidden whimsical mysteries of the woodland such as a camouflaged parrot, or a dainty butterfly. Every artist encodes their work, deliberately or subliminally with a colour of their own. Aggarwal has the right symbiotic accoutrements.
First a postgrad in management studies from Cambridge and later having studied at the College of Art, Edinburgh, Aggarwal has her own take on art. “My art education helped me to understand that there is no right and wrong in art. Whatever one creates is art,” she says. Art, like everything else, is personal. Her environmentalist father Kamal Meattle instilled the need to preserve the environment in her as a child. When she was eight, he started Save the Trees, an organisation that worked to create awareness about the importance of conservation that resonates in her work.
Not a surprising corollary was the Vinod Dixit award she received for her work in increasing ecological awareness in children. The 46-year-old artist admits that the objective of her show is to “bring luck into people’s lives” with her works, and showcase how different elements of nature could “transform the vibrations in one’s homes”. Of course she did “rigorous research on the topics of luck and lucky charms from around the world”. As bouquets go, it is a mixed one.