‘Nature’s Mystique’ showcases artist Salonika’s love for flora and fauna
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Birds of Paradise that promise togetherness, Peace lily that brings in prosperity and Red Salvia that ensures wisdom and good health… all this and more botanical art will be on display at Bikaner House as artist Salonika Meattle Aggarwal debuts with her solo art show beginning on March 23.
Thickly populated green vistas, large palms, sumptuously, bright flowers, shining bright perennials perched against a pristine blue sky abound in her works. “Having grown up surrounded with a lot of greenery, use of green colour comes naturally to me,” she says.
Learning to cherish flora and fauna from her environmentalist father Kamal Meattle, Salonika believes that plants “not only bring a feeling of warmth to the home, but also usher in healthy air for the lungs to breathe easy in.” The artist in conversation with Life & More:
Tell us about your forthcoming show Nature’s Mystique.
In this particular series, I have explored the meaning and symbolism of natural plants to produce my works of art. It took me about two years to produce these paintings. On display are 20 canvases along with one installation.
What explains your interest in Botanical paintings?
I love flowers and plants. The environment has had a major impact on my works. Also the fact that while growing up, I loved gardens and that brought me close to nature. Nature’s Mystique – Fauna and Flora reflects my love for the environment as well as my belief in spiritualty and positive energy – both of which govern our lives. Flowers brighten up our lives with their beauty and fragrance. But the power of a flower goes a lot deeper than just the surface appeal of a bloom. A flower serves a double purpose as a symbol too. Every plant has its own unique meaning.
Tell us a little about your journey into the art world. What inspired you to become an artist?
As a child I loved to doodle. Both my grandmothers were artists, so art was always around me. After I did my Master’s in Management from University of Cambridge I came back to India and ran a business for a few years. But I always wanted to pursue my passion for art and hence decided to take off from my work for a few months and went to the College of Art, Edinburgh. The most valuable lesson I learnt there was that there is nothing right or wrong about creating art – everything you create is art. This was the stepping stone to my creative journey and I have not looked back ever since. I have been painting for the last 22 years and have done many group shows and bespoke work for people.
Which is your favourite medium to paint, and why?
My favourite mediums of painting are oils and acrylics. I just enjoy the versatility of both these mediums. For example, acrylics can be thinned down to behave like watercolours or they can be thick to create impasto effects. They also dry very quickly along with being low on toxicity. In the same way with oil paintings one can add linseed oil to make it more malleable and easier to manipulate hence achieving the same thinning or thickening of paint. One can also achieve gloss or matte finish and even smooth out brush strokes. Both are interesting and challenging mediums to work with. I also love the rich colour pigments of these mediums.
Apart from paintings, do you dwell in other forms like sculptures, installations and digital work etc. Which one interests you the most, and why?
I love experimenting with sculptures. I love the three dimensionality of this medium. It is also tactile in nature and hence one can touch and feel its various textures and forms. In the same way installations are fun too. I have not worked with digital art yet but they are the new media in the art world and I want to explore it in the near future.
What are your other interests?
I love animals. Dogs are probably my favourite. I love the fact that they are extremely loyal and love unconditionally. I currently have two dogs. I once also had a rescued squirrel that I nurtured and brought up.
Nature’s Mystique is till March 31, at the Bikaner house