Landscapes don’t always reflect reality. They can capture the world both lived and imagined, as in the works of artist Vinita Karim, says Poonam Goel
Think landscapes and names of French artists Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne will, in most likelihood, be the first to spring to mind. Italian genius Leonardo Da Vinci intriguingly combined landscapes with portraiture but it was finally the Dutch who created serene and simple landscapes capturing the simplicity of nature. By the late 19th century, legendary Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh and Frenchman Claude Monet had perfected the art of painting the ‘outdoor’. Closer home, veterans like Ram Kumar, Manu Parekh and Paramjit Singh have constantly enamoured the Indian art collector with their abstract depictions of Varanasi’s vibrant ghats, flower-laden fields and majestic mountains.
“Landscape art will always be an important part of any art discourse, despite the rising trend of conceptual and digital art,” says artist Vinita Karim, who has an equal passion for landscape art. Born in Myanmar, educated in Sweden and the Philippines, and originally from India – Karim’s nomadic lifestyle takes her all over the world. She depicts her constantly-changing surroundings through her paintings, sculptures and installations. In a stunning show of vividly-coloured landscapes, titled ‘Magical Musings’, Karim displays 32 landscapes where no image is an exact replica of any one city. Landscapes from across the world merge into one another.
“My father was part of the Indian Foreign Service and I have lived in over 10 countries. I am like a sponge that absorbs everything around it,” says the 55-year-old, who is inspired by Austria-born landscape artist Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser. “Yet I consistently link back to my roots in India.” Her richly-coloured canvases combine the sand dunes of Egypt with the islands of the Philippines, and the ghats of Varanasi with the rivers of Bangladesh. These are not just pretty pictures but “living landscapes”, she says.
Her abstract cityscapes invite the viewer to enter them and explore a world with a pure golden sky, where deep reds and blues shape the sea, where buildings are multicoloured, and a thin cloud stretches endlessly across the sky. Karim paints whatever gives her joy: the dream-like quality of her cityscapes reveals the beauty and grace she finds through both adversity and success. Every element in her paintings partakes in this celebration of life: the perfect crescent of the moon falls closer to the earth to experience the wonder, the bridges connect land and water for an unimpeded jamboree, and gold and silver foils adorn the landscape.
Though Karim’s cities manifest on canvas without any specific portrayal of people, they exude a sense of warmth. Her ‘Egg’ series is not just about beautiful shapes and bright colours but also represent the transition from womanhood to motherhood. To see Karim’s art is to experience her joy and to step into a world where the beauty of life shines through everything around us.
The author is an art enthusiast and the views expressed in this article are her own