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Updated: July 22, 2013 21:33 IST

Personal stories

Anusha Parthasarathy
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'And lotuses bloom everywhere you look' by Uma Gautam
Special Arrangement 'And lotuses bloom everywhere you look' by Uma Gautam

Uma Gautam’s painting collection Zikr — Remembrance pulls you into a memory

It’s fitting that Uma Gautam’s painting exhibition at Art and Soul Art Gallery on ECR is themed Zikr — Remembrance. The moment and the mood of the canvas pulls you into a memory, and the the words penned on the side (by Uma) capture its essence. Most of Uma’s canvasses are personal, and talk of her journey with her ‘master’. “The theme is mystic, and it depicts my journey with my ‘guru’, which, like any journey, has its ups and downs,” says Uma.

‘And Lotuses Bloom Everywhere You Look’ is of goddess Kali, who sits on her tiger that walks on a bed of lotuses. Her trident forms a lotus bud in between, her crown holds a lotus and so does the pendant of her necklace. Her eyes, too, are like lotuses. Encased in a lotus-pink frame with an ink-blue halo to signify water, the goddess looks on, hand opened in blessing.

Great masters

“I’m not particularly religious, but these gods don’t just belong in calendars or on walls. They are living masters. I see them as people who lived at one time and were such great masters, that they became god,” she says.

The wiry girl with long, dark hair throws her arms up in resignation. ‘This World — Not Real Enough To Live, Not Unreal Enough To Die’, her eyes are indignant, and there is a halo around her head. Thoughts wriggle out of her mind in long, white strands and other dreams bounce around in white, flowery swirls.

The women in the next canvas are one and yet many. Perhaps it shows different frames of mind, different thoughts and moods. Her hair is silver and curly, and her moods are represented as colours and patterns in small circles on top — ‘One Step And I Will Know There Is No Other’.

You can go on looking at Uma’s picture poetry. Slowly, as you dwell deeper into her words, you find yourself being the girl in the frame, thinking of a distant memory. The words are universally relatable and so is the girl in the frame, looking back through expressive eyes and an enigmatic smile.

Self discovery

‘You Are What You Search For’ is a journey of self-discovery. She is in the centre, surrounded by the elements. For now, she is unsure what she is or if she is all of them — earth, fire, wind and water, surround her in puffs and waves. “Fire signifies purity,” explains Uma, “Similarly, each element signifies a state of mind or a decision.”

There are other inferences too, especially in her rendition of Ardhanarishwar. ‘Only He Can Show Me My Real Face’ has the serene Shiva and a fiery Parvati painted in green. She is part of him and yet, is gazing reverently at him. In another painting, a woman is shown sitting on a carpet, her hands lifted in prayer. Allah, her master, floats above like an iridescent being. Her prayers drizzle down like rain.

“My paintings focus on the eyes because they are the doors to the soul. And so, these are personal stories that look inwards,” adds Uma.

(Zikr is on at Art and Soul Art Gallery, 204-A, East Coast Road, Akkarai, till July 28)

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