Art Padmanabh Bendre’s paintings discover spirituality through the devotee, relegating religious symbols to the background. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo

Padmanabh Bendre deals with spirituality in a way that very few artists do. He takes up the theme of spiritual quest, a quest to understand the devotion to lord Shiva. He attempts to do that without shrouding his paintings with episodes culled out from mythology. Re-telling stories from mythological texts with intricate detailing is a different school of thought. Bendre looks at spirituality through the eyes of devotees, particularly women.

We learn that Bendre’s paintings are a result of observing his mother, an unfaltering devotee of Shiva.

The artist recalls his mother leading a life of tapas and bhakti following the principles of faith and sacrifice. His mother’s demise came as a blow and Bendre tried to feel closer to her by drawing this series on spirituality and Lord Shiva.

Colours are the most alluring aspect of Bendre’s paintings. He places the women, or devotees, in the forefront and looks at objects and forms of worship through their eyes. The Shiv ling, Nandi the bull and the temple bells are in the background in subdued shades and textures. For this, the artist has an interesting explanation: devotees visit temples in colourful attire with colourful flowers while the temple and idol are often in earthy or dark shades.

Bendre uses the ‘drip and layering technique’ through which he tries to achieve a trance effect. The use of different layers gives his paintings varied textures and depth that lead to clever use of spaces in each frame.

What: Spiritual Quest: Lord Shiva, an exhibition of paintings by Padmanabh Bendre

Where: Kalakriti Art Gallery, Road no. 10, Banjara Hills

When: Till November 13; 11a.m. to 7 p.m.