Prakriti: a series of brilliant paintings | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Prakriti: a series of brilliant paintings

27 November, 2022

Nuwan Nalaka returns to his floral and vegetal motifs in Prakriti, that deliberate on feminine energy, sexuality and the erotic. Nuwan Nalaka’s engagement with Hindu and Buddhist ideas continues in this series.

The flower vases are but a sanitized representation of a female figure in birthing position, Lajja Gauri — an ancient concept with Tantric associations that connote fertility and sexuality. They are also an allusion to the Poorna Ghata, the pot of plenty, which reaffirm the ideas of abundance and prosperity. In his mediation, the artist re-appropriates and re-imagines these ancient iconographies, leading essentially to the same interpretation.

Separated from its natural environment and retained as a decorative ornament within the confinement of a receptacle, the works lead us to an inquiry into the biological potential of flowers. In this context, it probes the limits of agency, freedom and of expression that a woman is granted.

Prakriti, in ancient Indian thinking, is the primordial, inert, and inactive energy from which all creation arises. This aspect is understood to be found within all women, and that every woman is an embodiment of Prakriti.

Vases brim with tropical abundance and colour. The flowers held within it are tender, filled with the promise of youth. Its hue and scent are enticing to the insects which hover around them. Ideas of attraction, desire and the capacity to give rise to new life are encoded within the paintings.

The references to Leda and Venus of Willendorf reiterate it. Overt with symbols and metaphors borrowed from Greek and South Asian imagination, Prakriti delves into the subject of the sensual and the suggestive.

The series oscillates between the past and the present. Through the symbolic, the biological, and the decorative Prakriti reengages with questions of the female body and its representation since pre-modern times. They prod us, like the eyes that quizzically stare at us, to reconsider how we have imagined and continue to imagine women, and their status in society.

The exhibition at the Saskia Fernando Gallery ends on December 13.