Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
The on at Dhoomimal Gallery in New Delhi is showcasing 12 artworks that take a viewer to the realms of cosmic consciousness. Created in Light and Dark, the paintings offer a 360 degree immersive experience Fthat has the ability to transport a viewer to the cosmic ocean (sheer sagar).
“These works are an eventful expression of inner life – the spiritual cosmos inside a human being. They transport you to a place that most people yearn to understand and reach to, the condition of mystical union. The series resonates with the description of experiencing Cosmic Consciousness by the spiritual masters like Paramahansa Yogananda– “The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. It is indescribably subtle; a mellow radiance, ever undiminished. His body is countless tissues of light. The voice of God I heard resounding as ॐ Aum, the vibration of Cosmic Motor” is the essence of the paintings. ॐ Aum is the Radiance of Cosmic Consciousness that is condensing on the canvas as cosmic beams illuminating the vibration of the cosmic motor and sound of the cosmic drum, which can’t be experienced by our naked eyes,” says the artist behind these works, Sonika Agarwal.
“For over seven years as an artist, I have been looking inwards doing my sadhana at my studio evolving and upgrading my technique to create these mystical paintings that take you on a spiritual journey from Who Am I to Who I Am,” she adds.
Born and brought up in the hills of Kumaon region, Sonika was interested in art since childhood. But she did not pursue any academic course for learning it. “I am self-taught artist. I learned through working with senior masters, gained hands-on experience by attending & holding art exhibitions, and camps,” she says adding that she also participated in exchange programs by visiting and hosting artists from South Africa, Germany, China, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, SAARC and ASEAN countries. Excerpts from an interview:
The show Radiance of Cosmic Consciousness is all about spiritualism. How do you connect art with spiritualism?
I had a lot of questions about life, and the search of answers for those raised more questions in me. This resulted in a constant churning and a fire within which could not be extinguished. That started my inward journey and I started doing sadhana in my studio, painting and writing while seeking answers by reading various Spiritual Masters.
And before I knew, I had become a disciple of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. In May 2021 I got initiated into the Inner Engineering Programme, adored the footprints of the Guru and have been practicing it daily since then.
The practice of art is about going into a meditative state so that while painting, I remove myself from the stage itself and let the Divine play for me. The most moving moments of my paintings is my inability to refuse the movements of my lines: wherever you wish to go, who am I to say don’t.
Cosmic Dream (Glow Effect)
Is there any message you want to give through this exhibition?
Through this exhibition, I dream of a humanity that goes beyond moral conundrums, ethical doubts and in the journey from Who am I to Who I am, which is illuminated by the Radiance of Cosmic Consciousness.
When was the first time that you decided to become an artist?
I have been painting since childhood, it came very naturally to me. While my siblings and friends used to play or watch movies, I would always choose to go in my room and paint. Nobody ever told me that I should become an artist, but my mother always motivated me to paint more. After my schooling I was lost as to which career path to choose but then the answer came from within that I am made for a creative field. In spite of starting life in a small tranquil hill town Almora, Art life chose me. To follow my calling relocated to New Delhi the Cultural Capital, to earn and learn Art.
How many shows have you had till now – solo and group?
My first Group Exhibition was at 19 yrs, after which art became the raison d’être of my existence. The crowning glory was receiving the National Stree Shakti Award from the President of India in 2013. I have had three solo exhibitions and 20 group exhibitions so far nationally and internationally. My artworks have travelled to South Africa, Egypt, Armenia, Colombo through Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Ministry of External Affairs. Also received Ministry of Culture Fellowship Award to research on the Art and Craft of the Uttarakhand Tribals.
Know the Cosmic Ocean
Planning another show after this one?
At present, I am creating a new series which is talking about the three states of consciousness. Hopefully we will come up with another solo show next year. Also, I am working on an art installation which hopefully can find its place at India Art Fair, 2024.
Who do you consider your idol in art, and why?
I don’t have any idol in art. I don’t want to see anybody above me or below me or be influenced by anyone. I always strived to have my own unique style which has a universal language. I could get it after a constant striving of seven years in my studio. I have read many masters and seen their works closely. I was always curious to know not what they painted but how they painted it, what was their mindset and drive which inspired them to create those masterpieces.
As an artist, what inspires you to create art works?
I allow inspiration to run through the veins more as a tonic to let loose myself, my own senses, my own identity to reach the right pitch to play on my canvas. My mind is creating 24 hours, it is a walking canvas. It is commonly believed that to understand the world is far more important than to understand oneself. My paintings are arresting flashes of insight, an unabashed declaration of my inner radiance: “Of what use is knowing the ends of the universe, if we cannot understand the cosmos of our Self. Atmanam Viddhi-Know Thyself.” This is what I believe in.
What medium do you specialise in – water colour, acrylic, oil paints etc. and Why
The preferred mediums to express myself are oil and acrylic on canvas, water colour, drawings, charcoal on paper and art installations. During covid I had to relocate to my hometown and a new journey on water colors started altogether. I could find another unique voice in water colors totally different from what I do on canvases which was very thrilling. My practise is versatile and I like to always explore new mediums in search of something more, something new.
What is your take on online shows.
Everything brings with it the positive and negative I believe it depends on us what we make out of it. For me the online platform has opened new domains and expanded the reach of art manifolds whereas earlier they were restricted to a limited space and a limited group of people. To promote art, art shows online is very nice in terms of its outreach but at the same time to be able to see the artworks closely is an experience that no digital platform can takeover.
What are your other interest areas, pastimes…
I love writing, singing, dancing, reading and doing yoga. Teaching art to kids was a good way to learn, so I also do that. I have touched the lives of over 1000 children in the last 13 years.
Exhibition is on till October