‘Like a divine verse, art flows from my soul’

 ‘Like a divine verse, art flows from my soul’

Artwork titled Written In The Stars

Rajkumari Sharma Tankha

“Art is a journaling of my life. I create art that flows from the depths of my heart and experiences,” says Neha Bisht, whose works are currently on display at IIC, New Delhi. The exhibition titled The HImalayan Trail has 22 works in all – the work spanning eight years, year 2016 onwards.
Paintings hills, mountains and nature’s glory comes easily to her, for Neha belongs to Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region, and has a hobbyist artist as her mother. Her ancestral lineage from maternal grandmother’s side has its roots in Nepal. “My great grandfather (my Nani’s father) is Bal Krishna Sama, celebrated poet & monarch of Nepal, founder of the Royal Nepal Academy, also known as the Shakespeare of Nepal,” she smiles.
Born and brought up in the city of culture, Lucknow, she studied English Literature, Psychology, Modern European History in college besides doing short-term certificate courses in Applied Arts and Interior Design.
Neha specialises in creating evocative soul aura landscape paintings, something like a sufi melody on canvas in oil, watercolour, ink, and even natural dyes like coffee, tea etc. “But, I enjoy ink the most. I love its vibrant tone and its fluid gradation and vintage art feel. Ink works are like little stories,” she says. More from her:

Please share something about your ongoing show The Himalayan Trail?
Himalayan Trail is a metaphor for a soul journey of evolution. Through these paintings I speak of the realisations and revelations I stumbled upon. In the course of living, we go through many experiences and we evolve. This path of evolution and growth, of ascending the mountain of life, of connecting to our best version, to the higher consciousness, of flowing in the divine river of oneness through our Karma & Dharma, is the Himalayan Trail we are all on. Through my artworks I express this Himalayan Trail, that is universal to all of us.
My Himalayan Trail has 3 paths: Meandering Brush, Looking for Aranyani & the Chant of Om. Meandering Brush is about the wandering of the soul through seasons, forests and landscapes of feelings and experiences; Looking for Aranyani is about soul truth, about an awareness my soul came to understand in my quest for peace. And Aranyani is Goddess Parvathi’s daughter, gifted to her as wish-fulfilment by the Kalpvriksha tree. Aranyani is also the goddess of the forest. She is the essence embodiment of love, home, peace, abundance, wisdom, harmony, balance, purity, strength, justice, and wish-fulfilment, something we are all looking for in our life journey. Hence Looking for Aranyani is a metaphor for looking for soul truth.
Chant of Om is my collection of Ink Vignettes composed around the bark of a Pine tree. These enigmatic sketches, inspired by the Himalayan landscapes, are created with the use of fire, water, earth elements like wood and natural dyes, and air element like candle smoke. The Chant of Om celebrates the souls state of oneness, balance and harmony with the cosmic flow of the bigger universal frame. It is peace at the top of the mountain, after an exciting climb, sometimes thrilling, arduous, dangerous and sometimes full of joy.I have tried to create that pure vibration of Om in a pristine and minimalist landscape, celebrating tree, flowers, horizons and contours of the Himalayan topography. If Om were a landscape, it would look like these Chants of Om. We are created from Panchtatva, and these Pine bark vignettes are also created from Panchtatva.
My Soul Aura Landscapes celebrate trees and birds, the spirit that makes earth a home for us. Without trees and birds, the whole ecosystem crashes! Nature landscape is my stage, the elements of nature are my protagonists, feelings are my story, viewer is the human in the frame.… and finding a better way, a kinder way is my message.

Two Worlds (left), and The Amethyst Forest

Your paintings are quite bright, but at the same time serene and bring in a lot of peace into the viewer… Is there a hidden message you want to send across?
Yes, in all my works the story unfolds in layers. The hidden message my art speaks of is that every experience in life is there to unravel a hidden beauty and strength within us, that heals, soothes and empowers our life. Every landscape of life is beautiful, bringing us closer to our best version. And this is what my art is, transmuting everything into beauty and harmony that soothes and empowers. The muted tones of my palette create a vibrant aura without disturbing the visual balance of hues.

Seems you are into meditation and spiritualism…
Situations of my life pushed me onto a path of seeking my soul truth and soul alignment. I am a free thinker and a person of faith. I am a Tarot card practitioner. Through Tarot my endeavour is to help people gain clarity and overcome the challenges of their life and align themselves to the better way. I believe that all is energy and that nature is a medium of connecting to a higher consciousness, and to soul. Ancient theosophies and civilisations intrigue me and I read and research a lot about them. It is my belief that the body is the hardware and the Chakra energy points are the software. Our emotional perceptions are the triggers that unlock the door to a higher consciousness. The cosmic energy movements impact us. It is all a connected existence and experience. It is important that the software, hardware and emotional body be in a good vibration. We are here to fulfil our karma and dharma and create a better environment of existence for all. The mythologies, ancient cultures, folklore all have certain hidden truths in them. It is time for the physical sciences to embrace the metaphysical sciences to unravel the mysteries of existence and create a better world. In the end it is “As above so below, as within so without, all around.” Each consciousness is an energy ripple. It is in our power to create music or cacophony.

The Altar

How did you enter the world of art?
In my family art is part of our grooming. Everyone in my family is into art as a hobby. My mother, my aunts, my maternal grandfather all are painters. However, they never pursued art professionally. I grew up in an environment of art and literature. I was initiated into art at an early age by my mother. I was put into a formal training structure under tutors for some time. In class 7, at the age of 13, I made my first oil painting, and I so fell in love with colours, textures, strokes, the smell of turpentine, that the journey never stopped. I self-educated myself in art by studying famous masters and different schools of art, art techniques etc. I was blessed to encounter professionals of the art field from across the globe, who corrected and guided me and helped me improve myself art skills.
Though art was never really looked upon as a career option in my family, almost everyone was initiated into painting.

Why did you want to be an artist?
Art is my go to space. It is the only way I know how to express my thoughts. Art is something that flows from my soul, like a divine verse. It is art that pulled me through every darkness. It is art that guided me in my journey. Art is my dialogue with the universe and with my inner core. I know not how to be anything else other than an artist. Through my art it is my endeavour to enable and empower others.

Ballad of Oak & Jacaranda – Ek Nazm and Blue Poppies

So, was there opposition from your parents on your taking up art as vocation? How did you go about it?
There was a kind of passive opposition and dismissal of art as a career. My parents were fine with me painting but they never considered it to be a career option. They wanted me to pursue traditional options like teaching. So, for a while I pursued the teaching, dabbled in journalism, but continued with my art in whatever little way the universe enabled me to. So, it was and is, literally one step at a time for me.
In 2013, I picked up the brush after a hiatus of almost 10 years and started developing artworks. In In 2015 I started presenting them in artist portals and websites. In 2018 I published my art and poetry book Meandering Brush, as a first step to putting my thought as an artist and spiritualist across. And, in 2020 I started with my exhibition presentation and profile. By divine grace and orchestration, I have showcased my art in group shows in Delhi at India Habitat Centre and Bikaner House, and in Goa. Last year, I had my first small solo show at At India Habitat Centre.
The current show is my first major Solo Show where I have exhibited my entire theme and journey, The Himalayan Trail.

What’s your source of inspiration?
Nature inspires me. Clouds, flowers, storm, seas, mountains, skies, my feelings inspire me. Life inspires me to paint. My dreams inspire me. There are many amazing artists and famous people from all fields whom I hold in high esteem. But my inspiration comes from a divine cosmos of elements that surrounds us. Love inspires me.

A symphony undisturbed

Who do you consider as your ideal, among the artists?
I am very much in awe of the works of Fyodor Vasilyev, Raja Ravi Verma, Claude Monet, Jehangir Sabavala, Ilya Repin, Ivan Aiwazovsky , Alfonse Mucha, Camille Pissaro and Friedrich Casper, Nicholas Roerich.

How do you find Delhi for the growth of an artist?
With a large number of galleries being active, and many art events happening, and also thanks to a global audience that Delhi offers, the growth prospects for an artist have certainly improved over the years. Delhi is certainly maturing to accepting art as an integral part of lifestyle and space enhancement. However, the emerging artists like me do struggle with economics of it all. But all in all I feel Delhi audience is definitely good.

Mountain of Fog and Valley of Mist

Any other interests, hobbies…
I love to write poetry. And I love researching about ancient theosophies and cultures. I am a free thinker. Nature treks in mountains is also something that I like. And of course, reading and music is the soul space for me with my art.

On view till April 23, at IIC Annexe Gallery, IIC New Delhi


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