"Sidharth past present futures"
Ms. Shailja Vohora
Sidharth’s work is remarkably contemporary, yet
inspired by centuries-old traditions. The use of natural
dyes and colours are key to his art. His forms are derived
from traditional sculpture and are very Indian in their
He instinctively takes from the past, but refreshes his
imagery with his own experiences and feelings. Sidharth
is one of India’s most influential contemporary
artists with an invaluable knowledge of producing traditional
pigments as well as modern paints.
He is known for his use of vibrant natural colours, which
he produces himself from various vegetable and mineral
pigments. Sidharth uses pure natural mineral pigments,
which can be found in soft stone or in clay. They are
ground, washed and dried to make a powder pigment. He
also produces vegetable dyes from extracts of roots, stems,
barks, leaves, fruits, nuts and shoots of different plants,
trees and shrubs. In total he has discovered over 150
dyes in the last ten years, and can create over 600 different
hues and shades by mixing them with each other or with
water. To fix the paint he uses an overcoat of linseed
oil and paints it over with egg tempera, which is later
glazed with a melamine coating.
In Sidharth’s own words: “Every painting has
its own life, its own world like an individual, colours
talk to me and they appear with different forms, they
bring other elements to tell a story which then evolves
into a painting! Colours have their own characteristics,
landscapes and culture. One understands their history
and symbols better when one knows their origins and source.
Colours have a psychological impact on every individual
in a different manner according to their geographical
situation of culture and nature. Every individual is free
to interpret a painting the way that painting talks to
This is his first London show where he explores some familiar
and some new territories. The five elements or ‘Panch-Tatvas’
are the inspiration,a thread that links the paintings
on show with each other and with the artist’s intense
and diverse experiences.
The Buddhas reappear as they have for several years in
his work, but this time there is a more detailed almost
Klimt-like rendering. ‘Whisper of the Storm’
represents the air element. The falling autumn leaves
blow across the painting and giving it movement while
the figure of the standing Buddha is reminiscent of the
early Gupta period sculptures with its broad shoulders,
half-closed lotus eyes. The meditative stillness of the
Buddha juxtaposed against the detailed calligraphy of
the background reflects the clutter of our modern world.
The smouldering embers of the ‘American Buddha’
brings together many elements of his previous works in
a vibrant and exciting image. The blues and greys reflect
the steel of modernity, with its complex multi- layered
filigree of the elements. The bright, fiery banners, jewel-like
flags and trumpets express the excitement of the city
and amongst it all, the Buddha stands serene and calm,
blessing us with his hands raised in the ‘Abhay
His hopscotch series and abstract hills come together
beautifully in the image of ‘Ananda’ (Eternal
Bliss). The young girl with her arms outstretched feeding
the doves, emerges from a landscape of hills, totally
encompasses the element of the earth. The magnificent
deep shades of reds, yellow ochres and greens echo the
vibrant Indian landscape.
Thaal – the Cosmic Dance’ with its graceful
movement evokes the power and the playfulness of Shiva.
The planets being juggled in space seem to represent the
constant change of human emotions and the ebbing and flowing
of life. His vibrant blues and greens of earlier works
have now acquired a soothing note.
the Ocean of Time’ is a complex work and marks the
beginning of a new period in the artist’s repertoire.
He derives his inspiration from traditional Indian miniature
painting, but shapes it in a form that is uniquely his.
His narrative exists on several planes in this particular
work. The viewer is invited to journey with the travellers
into a magical, mystical world, which exists within and
without. Time seems to stand still and yet it is in constant
flow like the ocean, which can appear still on the surface,
but is brimming with life. The multiple layers of the
image represent the pools of time formed when a pebble
is flung into water. His love affair with turquoise, ultramarine
and indigo of his earlier works are combined with warm
earth tones to create a totally new experience that bring
together all the five elements in a harmonious composition.
With Sidharth past, present and future coexist. He experiments
with forms, images and textures old and new to tell his
story, which is often closely linked to classical Indian
literature, folk ballads, mythology, music and poetry.
His journey into mysticism began from early childhood.
Zen, Sufism, Osho, Guru Granth Sahib, Tibetan Buddhism
are the many facets of religious thought that have influenced
There is a very strong spiritual core, which is part of
the fabric of his being and is reflected in all his paintings.
His work is sophisticated, yet intense …a rare cross-cultural
success. Each painting has a very personal, spiritual
experience for the viewer, which the artist hopes will
lead you to your universal understanding of human culture.