Foreword by Ms Sushma K. Bahl

The Hindu philosophy of Karma and the first cause of creation as a series of acts, or Karma is the concept that artist Kota Neelima attempts to explore through her current series of art works. The new collection in finely textured and diligently worked layers of oils, evokes ideas through images reflective of time, space, and nature. Her impressionist-abstract renderings in a soft subtle palette, seem to replay the concept of panchtatva or the revered five elements of nature- Prithvi or earth, Jal or water, Agni or fire, Vayu or air, Akash or space/ ether – that brought the universe to life and keep it going in cycling movement of birth- life, death and rebirth.

Taking us back to the beginning with titles such as First Cause, First Day, First Cut, and First Drop; her current art–scape features, the moon and the sun and the lush green trees, as well as images of nature’s benevolence and fury. The bindu of Tantra cosmology, from which emanates all else – this creation and the structure of the universe and humanity, as per the ancient scriptures, is a significant element in her philosophy and art. Tracing the origin of life, she studies through the Vedas and the Upanishads, in a spirit of inquiry to reflect her findings in her semi abstract expressions. The notion of tri-murti seems omnipresent in the flora and fauna re- figured in her compositions, may be as some distant hill, or tree, birds, river, land or a horizon far away.

Notable is the artist’s play of light and shade and her juxtaposition of colours in a magical mix that turns the static imagery into dynamic illusionistic re-creation. Another feature that characterizes Neelima’s work is her underpinned and deep rooted concepts and poetics. In a fine assimilation of basic scientific principles, with philosophical layering and Vedic wisdom, she searches not only for her inspiration but also the ideation for her art. Usually sketching before painting, she works diligently to prepare her canvas and gradually adds forms to create her art in colours of her choice as appropriate for the theme under study. The expanse of minimalist expressions is marked for its stillness and vibrancy, ethereal and surreal, perceived and intuitive- transcendent all the same. The work is a pointer to the artist’s preoccupation with concepts of time or timelessness and the origins of human life and the universe.

Author of ‘5000 years of Indian Art’ and former head, Art and Culture, British Council, India, Sushma K. Bahl, MBE, is an independent arts advisor and curator based in Delhi.