India is an amalgamation of diverse beliefs, rituals and practices. While many of us unquestioningly follow our traditions, just as our parents and grandparents did, do we really know the significance or the underlying meaning behind the time-honoured practices?
Aparajita Barai, an artist and a graphic designer who graduated from National Institute of Design, has been on a journey to understand Indian myths and spiritualism and launch new discourses on their meaning through contemporary art.
An Auroville resident, Aparajita’s work is influenced by folk style, revealing the intricacy of traditional art interspersed with mythology and spirituality.
Beloved India was her brainchild, borne out of the urge to dig out these ancient treasures, meanings and possibilities that have been submerged under ceremonial practices. Aparajita first conceptualised in 2011, when she was doing her masters in communication design at the University of Westminister, London.
“I realised that India is strongly driven by its spiritual essence and throughout history, it has stood out for that quest. Yet it is sad to witness how the same essence that is supposed to take us beyond boundaries is pulling us down due to lack of understanding. We still keep following the rituals, without imbibing the purpose,” she says.
Incorporating a number of deities into her designs, Aparajita portrays who is not commonly recognised as “design”. With an aim to present these in a modern context, her artworks are examples of a rich representation of visual language incorporating the use of colours, symbols and metaphors.
“While I create the image of Durga, I am worshipping inner strength. I meditate and look within myself in search of that quality and its embodiment. As the clarity slowly flows in, it starts to take form and is personified into creation,” she says.
Here are some of the works by this young artist who seeks answers as she finds her way into ancient ideas through art.
Lakshmi. The owl is the goddess’ vahana representing the quality to see through darkness. Lakshmi comes to those who can see even through times when there is no hope.
Truth and alignment