I Write What I Cannot Paint, & I Paint What I Cannot Write: Kota Neelima
Author and artist Kota Neelima says, “My art seeks to explore the spatial and temporal expressions of scepticism in religion.” Here she delves deeper into what went behind her present series ‘Metaphors of the Moon’ in which she talks about the experiences of families of farmer suicides in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
Expression has a will of its own. It wants to be collective, not individual. It seeks actualization in thoughts and actions of others. Expression, I had discovered as an author and artist, finds it own path; I write what I cannot paint, and I paint what I cannot write.
All my art is based in my field research for my books on rural distress, farmer suicides and poverty in Indian villages. The present 2018 series, ‘Metaphors of the Moon’, is inspired by the experiences of families of farmer suicides in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, while researching for my new book Widows of Vidarbha, Making of Shadows (Oxford University Press, 2018). It is a representation of the spirituality of common people, the thought that keeps us hoping and going through the daily rigours of life.
Belief in Hinduism is not blind faith, notwithstanding the popular and political interpretation.
My work is inspired by the long and impressive tradition of scepticism in the Indian philosophical thought, specifically, that of Hinduism. Belief in Hinduism is not blind faith, notwithstanding the popular and political interpretation.
Hinduism does not demand submission, but leads the followers towards awareness. To be aware of one’s momentariness is to be part of the immortal. To be aware of one’s individuality is to identify with the collective. To be aware of one’s thought is to be aware of the universal thought. This combining of the two ends of the spectrum is not to render everything uniform, but to accept the difference. It is, after all, through difference that the Universe manifests itself, as the vast and intensely detailed Creation. As long as this is the basis of any religion or philosophical thinking, it can claim to represent humanity. In this, Hinduism has defied reductionist tendencies that seek to dwell on separation and difference, to facilitate the rule of one individual over the other. That is the reason why Hinduism refuses to be subjugated by power.
It is, after all, through difference that the Universe manifests itself, as the vast and intensely detailed Creation.
My art seeks to explore the spatial and temporal expressions of scepticism in religion.
Expression arising from the spirituality of questions is democratic in its debate, and inclusive of change and modernity. My art seeks to explore the spatial and temporal expressions of scepticism in religion. For the past 15 years, the themes of my paintings interrogated the rationalization between God and the individual, the infinite and the finite, the one and the many.
Causation was the theme of my 2012 series, First Cause, and, based on the Karma theory, questioned the effect of Creation on the Creator. In my 2015 series, What The Eyes Can See, I explored the questions of the Upanishads on what drives the eye, the mind and the thought to find the subject. The 2017 series, Places of Worship, unravelled the need for territorial points in religion, like temples, mosques, etc. The theme of the present 2018 series, Metaphors of the Moon, is reconciliation and locates it in the suffering of the farmers of rural India because of debt and distress.
Kota Neelima is an artist and author. She works from StudioaAdda in Delhi. Views expressed are author’s own.
Picture Credit: Facebook/KotaNeelima