Experience Sufi mysticism through Arpita Kothari’s canvases that are on show at Art Houz till April 30

The world moves a lot faster when you are in a trance. When you start swirling, with your hands above your head, your eyes closed, all you can think of is the music that is getting louder and louder. Take a breath. ‘Sufi’, an exhibition of paintings by Arpita Kothari, delves into music and movement, bringing out the soul of this mystic faith through her work.

There is a great deal of movement in Arpita’s art, whether it is the whirling dervish shown as a shadowy haze or his white skirt rising along with a cloud of dust from the earth beneath his feet. ‘Serendipity’ is a Sufi dancer lost in a trance. His state of mind, its absolute surrender to music, is shown as a blooming lotus behind him.

Across the room, a canvas shows a cloud of dust rising high, with the tops of many domes stretching out in the background. In this mystical world is emblazoned the word ‘Sufi’ in Arabic. A wall, that looks like the ramparts of a fort or perhaps the outer wall of a mosque is at the front.

Evolve, on the other hand, is the evolution of the dance, of how the dervish begins with his hand crossed across his chest, and eventually, in the whirl of his movement, his hands are pushed away, to be free, to rise up. These acrylics are painted like two circular pieces of art. One small, the other larger, as his hands and his mind get free. The colours are shades of green and blue, unlike the usual earthy hues of Sufi. And yet, as you decipher the dancer whirling away, you are struck by how lost he is in time.

The Buddha makes an appearance in Calmasutra. He is seated on a lotus, surrounded by water and blazing fire. He is calm exuding a blue aura. All is well here. Peak Seek is a rather peculiar combination — the face of a horse and half of Buddha’s, both different, yet balanced. The world behind them is a blue spiral. Nothing else matters.

One of the most striking pieces of Arpita’s art is of the whirling dervish’s feet. It is in a constant state of movement, so much so that the colours of the earth mix with his skirt, his clothes bleed to the ground and the colours blend — green turning into yellow and yellow into brown. There are other skirts in the background, also swirling and in a mystic trance. Stand there for a little while longer and you might find yourself moving too, whirling away, timelessly.

Sufi is on display at Art Houz, No. 41, Kasturi Ranga Road, Alwarpet, till April 30 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.