Art has been a journey of discovery for me; discovery about myself, my environment and the world at large. As an undergraduate student of art, I went through the rigour of producing art works in order to acquire skill and develop my creative process. However after my graduation when I revisited my work I realized that there was an underlying pattern. Most of my works were representations of nature and animals. This made me take a closer look at my own surroundings and realise consciously for the first time that I was actually surrounded by animals; without us seeking to have pets, animals were somehow always part of our household and I had grown up in their midst. This set me thinking about how animals became part of man’s life and the relationships, of power, love and dependence that characterize the interactions between man and animal. At the same time, it struck me that at present we live at a great remove from nature and I felt this in some way defines who we are and what are inclinations are at present. It seemed that the greater the distance between man and nature, the greater was man’s propensity towards selfishness, anger and destruction. Thus animals and our attitudes towards them became my preoccupation.
When I moved to Delhi for my post-graduation, life around me changed drastically. But the only constant was my preoccupation with nature and animals. Elephants, one of the largest creatures, became the subject of my art. I realized that despite its size, the entire strength of the animal was in its trunk and it was this very organ that was brutally attacked by poachers for the tusks that flanked it. The irony of it struck me especially when I read news articles on how a large hoard of tusks was discovered in China. Man seemed to be growing technologically yet with each step ‘forward’ he also seemed to be regressing in his relationship with the environment. I see my art as a way of registering this changing relationships in the environment using materials, such as clay, wood and fallen leaves that are from the environment and become one with the environment with the time. Unlike man who aims to build large monuments for himself and does not see his own doomsday approaching, other creatures of the earth, however large they may be, have perfected the art of living and dying close to the earth.