REMAINS OF AYODHYA PLACES OF WORSHIP An exhibition of paintings by KOTA NEELIMA

Posted by: at 12/27/2016 04:45:00 am
REMAINS OF AYODHYA PLACES OF WORSHIP An exhibition of paintings by KOTA NEELIMA

The exhibition opens on 6th January 2017

And will continue till 16th January 2017

Time: 11 am to 8 pm (all days)
Venue: Galerie Romain Rolland,
Alliance Francaise de Delhi,
72, KK Birla Lane, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi.
Media contact: +91 9818180422

Not On The Map
 Not On The Map

Places of Worship
 Places of Worship

Prayers
 Prayers

Sacred Windows
 Sacred Windows

The Residence
The Residence

Concept:
The self undertakes two kinds of journeys in a lifetime, the sensory and the spiritual. Like in any journey, points of reference mark the progress towards the destination and also help to find meaning in the landmarks crossed on the way. For the self, such points of reference could be a place, a symbol, a practice or anything that might be externally representative of its internal journey. Temples, mosques, shrines are places of worship where the lines of the sensory and the spiritual journeys intersect. These places are points of reference that provide context to the mind’s spiritual and sensory search. Through rituals and prayer, the sensory journey is achieved while through contemplation the spiritual journey is accomplished. And yet, although ritual and tradition could enlist each place of worship to a sensory journey under a particular religion, the spiritual journey defied such fixation. For this reason, the identification of places of worship with a religion must remain a mere functional aspect of the sensory journey. But, when the purpose of the sensory journey is to seek a spiritual destination, a place of worship must facilitate this transition by undermining its own relevance. Places of worship, thus, are temporary points of reference on the sensory journey of the self to its spiritual destination.

Religion seeks to assign permanence to places of worship for the purpose of god-making through arguments that are mythological, historical, philosophical, temporal, traditional, among other. The question, therefore, arises on whether the places of worship are restrictive towards the natural quest of the self to be spiritual. If so, what contours demarcate a place to be occupied by the religious symbols and un-demarcate it to return it to the whole? What, for instance, would occupy the space left behind by the removal of a place of worship? Will the space still serve as a point of reference and if yes, would it be a sensory point of reference or a spiritual point of reference? If the point of reference were derived only from rituals and traditions of religion, then the ceasing of these would end the tenure of the place of worship. If, on the other hand, the points of reference were spiritual, it would continue to be such a place even without the religious rituals and traditions. The space left behind by a place of worship must relocate itself in the mind of the traveler on the sensory and spiritual journey. The space cannot be territorialized like a landmark or a structure, or demarcated like a nation or a household, but must be reimagined in every place that sought a spiritual destination.

Ayodhya as a permanent place of worship might have been a sensory point of reference towards a spiritual destination. Ayodhya as an absent place of worship may now be a spiritual point of reference. The paintings in the series, Remains of Ayodhya, Places of Worship, seek to reconceptualise Ayodhya in the mind of the travelers of various religions and unshackle it from its ritualistic territorialisation and traditional demarcation. The absence of the point of reference secularizes the space and equalizes it with other absences that must guide the spiritual journey. Ayodhya symbolizes the elevation of every ritual and tradition to its meaning, and of every place or structure to an empty space. The hegemonic appropriation
of the space as a point of reference in any religion is further evidence of the sensory journey that seeks only the sensory destination. On the other hand, the lack of a point of reference in Ayodhya is sufficient for the spiritual journey that seeks the spiritual destination.

The paintings represent the absence of the point of reference in Ayodhya that equates it with any place of worship of the spiritual journey. In that, Ayodhya today could be compared to places that did not have temples, mosques and shrines. It is the space between religious structures, and is represented by non-ritualistic places of worship, like symbols of nature, trees, sky, the day and the night. This space is depicted through 23 works of oil on canvas that free Ayodhya from its perceived boundaries and find it the way it always has been, without form that belonged to any one religion and without tradition that belonged to any one faith.


Kota Neelima has studied painting techniques at the Arpana Caur’s Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, New Delhi. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and was Senior Research Fellow, South Asia Studies at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC.

Her work for over a decade had deconstructed contemporary reality through spirituality, presented in five solo exhibitions in Delhi. Her fourth solo show, First Cause (2012), was based on the Upanishadic exploration of the cause of all Creation, the cause of all causes. Three works from this series can be seen on display at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. Neelima’s fifth solo exhibition, What the Eyes Can See (2015), continued her inquiry into causation by contemporary and critical understanding of questions from Indian philosophy. The works articulated the questions of Nachiketa in Katha Upanishad, about that which is beyond the right and wrong, the cause and effect, and the questions of Kena Upanishad on what drives the eye, the mind, the speech, and highlight a force that is separate from choice or survival.

Neelima’s paintings are impressionist-abstract and the medium is oil on canvas. She follows an elaborate process of making the works, which begins with extensive research of texts, followed by charcoal drawings on paper before, finally converting them to oil paintings. The symbols used in the paintings are trees, sky, the moon and birds, which undergo multi-faceted and complex redefinition. The accessible symbols, each immersed in one or the other aspect of the concept, assist in elaborate exploration of each painting. Besides the solo exhibitions, her paintings have been featured in art shows in India and abroad. Her work is also a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Sacred Art, Belgium.

Neelima has been a journalist for 22 years and, is an author. Her book on devotion, Tirupati A Guide To Life (2012) has been translated into several languages. The book drew from Skanda Mahapurana to explore the temple of Tirupati in Southern India. She has also co-authored another book, Tirumala, Sacred Foods of God, which explains the traditions of Naivedyam and is scheduled to be published soon. Besides religion and spirituality, Neelima is the author of four bestselling novels on poverty and political corruption, of which one book, Shoes of the Dead (2013), is being made into a movie. She works from her studio, StudioAdda, and lives in New Delhi.

Remains of Ayodhya
Places of Worship
Kota Neelima
New Delhi, 2017

The self undertakes two kinds of journeys in a lifetime, the sensory and the spiritual. Like in any journey, points of reference mark the progress towards the destination and also help to find meaning in the landmarks crossed on the way. For the self, such points of reference could be a place, a symbol, a practice or anything that might be externally representative of its internal journey. Temples, mosques, shrines are places of worship where the lines of the sensory and the spiritual journeys intersect. These places are points of reference that provide context to the mind’s spiritual and sensory search. Through rituals and prayer, the sensory journey is achieved while through contemplation the spiritual journey is accomplished. And yet, although ritual and tradition could enlist each place of worship to a sensory journey under a particular religion, the spiritual journey defied such fixation. For this reason, the identification of places of worship with a religion must remain a mere functional aspect of the sensory journey. But, when the purpose of the sensory journey is to seek a spiritual destination, a place of worship must facilitate this transition by undermining its own relevance. Places of worship, thus, are temporary points of reference on the sensory journey of the self to its spiritual destination.

Religion seeks to assign permanence to places of worship for the purpose of god-making through arguments that are mythological, historical, philosophical, temporal, traditional, among other. The question, therefore, arises on whether the places of worship are restrictive towards the natural quest of the self to be spiritual. If so, what contours demarcate a place to be occupied by the religious symbols and un-demarcate it to return it to the whole? What, for instance, would occupy the space left behind by the removal of a place of worship? Will the space still serve as a point of reference and if yes, would it be a sensory point of reference or a spiritual point of reference? If the point of reference were derived only from rituals and traditions of religion, then the ceasing of these would end the tenure of the place of worship. If, on the other hand, the points of reference were spiritual, it would continue to be such a place even without the religious rituals and traditions. The space left behind by a place of worship must relocate itself in the mind of the traveler on the sensory and spiritual journey. The space cannot be territorialized like a landmark or a structure, or demarcated like a nation or a household, but must be reimagined in every place that sought a spiritual destination.

Ayodhya as a permanent place of worship might have been a sensory point of reference towards a spiritual destination. Ayodhya as an absent place of worship may now be a spiritual point of reference. The paintings in the series, Remains of Ayodhya, Places of Worship, seek to reconceptualise Ayodhya in the mind of the travelers of various religions and unshackle it from its ritualistic territorialisation and traditional demarcation. The absence of the point of reference secularizes the space and equalizes it with other absences that must guide the spiritual journey. Ayodhya symbolizes the elevation of every ritual and tradition to its meaning, and of every place or structure to an empty space. The hegemonic appropriation
of the space as a point of reference in any religion is further evidence of the sensory journey that seeks only the sensory destination. On the other hand, the lack of a point of reference in Ayodhya is sufficient for the spiritual journey that seeks the spiritual destination.

The paintings represent the absence of the point of reference in Ayodhya that equates it with any place of worship of the spiritual journey. In that, Ayodhya today could be compared to places that did not have temples, mosques and shrines. It is the space between religious structures, and is represented by non-ritualistic places of worship, like symbols of nature, trees, sky, the day and the night. This space is depicted through 23 works of oil on canvas that free Ayodhya from its perceived boundaries and find it the way it always has been, without form that belonged to any one religion and without tradition that belonged to any one faith.
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