Of feathered bodies and worlds
"What a body remembers," Seema Kohli's solo showing at Tao Art Gallery's magnificent space in Mumbai invites the human gaze like never before. Because Kohli's works are born of deep meditation; they are born of mythic narratives and they embrace the idea of hybrids in the world of the 'kalpavriksha', in the world of beings who balance vibrations of a world that straddles many realms.
In an exclusive interview with Millennium post, Kohli speaks about the hybrid elements in her works.
"The elements used in my works are for the life around me and also from the fantastical world. These could be women with deer bodies or swans with a feminine figure. At some point in the evolution of man, we broke the food chain and became superior to the rest of the life around us. I think somewhere, I also have a regret and want the humans to have the intuitive knowledge of the animals still around us."
In the canvasses that look more like tapestries in time, there are luscious feathered beings who seem to float and flitter along the paradigms of life and its many leanings. Kohli explains her symbolism: "The symbolism of feathers are not only on humans in my works but also on cows, deer, horses which are a part of my empire. All the beings in my universe have the ability to fly (not literally of course), but the capability to break the pull of gravity and also to reach beyond the limits of their physical bodies."
It's interesting how the trees in her works also bring in references to the legendary 'kalpavriksha', it manifests the myriad tales of existence and the idea of the 'kalpavriksha' as a metaphor. About the trees/'kalpavriksha', Kohli states, "I do not paint only the Kalpavriksha, but any Vriksha. I am fascinated by trees because this is the only element nature gave us which explains the basic principles of life. The tree joins the three universes together, the universe below our feet, the universe that we inhabit, and the heavens above. The idea of staying connected to everything and being in present is symbolically conveyed by simply looking at the tree. The human form is also called a 'Ultavriksha', as our roots are our brain.
In any whichever way I see a tree, it fascinates me. There is no faith, culture or religion which has not revered trees. Hindus revered peepal, Buddhists revered banyan, Sikhs-berry, Islam-date palms and Christians, the olive tree. Almost all the saints sat under a tree for the equilibrium of mind and understanding the laws of nature – to give and to give without attachment."