Sireesha Srinivas: An artful peek at Kashmir

Artist Sireesha Srinivas, who recently held her show in Delhi curated by Renu Rana, believes Kashmir is her muse.

Having stayed in Kashmir for a major part of her life, Sireesha Srinivas is more attuned to the valley than her present abode in Delhi. She is a self-taught artist, for whom expressing love for her surrounding is paramount. Sireesha’s art is inspired by the life and environment around her. Since the inception of her art life, she has been searching for self -expression.

Tell us about your Kashmir connection and how it has inspired you as an artist.

My tryst with Kashmir started with my marriage. My husband is an IPS officer of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre. We have been there for over two decades and courtesy his postings in Kashmir valley, we had the opportunity to experience every part of Kashmir, starting from Kargil in the Ladakh region to Kupwara in North Kashmir. His postings took us to South Kashmir as well, besides a long time spent in Srinagar, the summer capital.

The beauty of Kashmir would inspire any artist and portraying landscapes has always fascinated me. I thoroughly enjoy capturing the live images on canvas, as it is quite satisfying.

When was the artist in you born?

I hail from South India from a traditional Telugu-speaking family and did my masters before moving to Kashmir. The orientation to art came to me from a couple of my paternal relations, who were fine drawing teachers. Observing them do oil paintings generated an interest in me, but I never got an opportunity to pursue this hobby. Like every South Indian, I am fascinated by Raja Ravi Verma’s art and my first painting was also a replica of his painting, which unfortunately, was lost in the Kashmir floods of 2014.

Is Kashmir your muse? Are there other themes that inspire you?

Yes, Kashmir is my current theme and there is plenty to explore in Kashmir’s landscape. The beautiful meadows, the snow peaks, the tulips, the boats and shikaras of Dal Lake, to name a few, stand out as the representation of mesmerising beauty that the paradise is endowed with. It’s the theme that I am pursuing now, though I may not hesitate to pick up new themes, including portraits. My favourite works on Kashmir landscapes have always been the serene waves of Dal Lake and the charming chinar leaves, besides the snow peaks of Kashmir valley.

Chinar Shades, 48×60 oil on canvas by Sireesha Srinivas

What is the difference between living in Kashmir and Delhi?

Oh! There is a huge difference. We spent barely two years in Delhi, while we have spent 20 long years in Kashmir. The sense of personal freedom in Delhi is a welcome change as our family, like any other police family in Kashmir, had severe security concerns and the security situation in Kashmir as you may be well aware, very rarely provides an opportunity to be away from a restricted environment. Delhi is just the opposite and gives me ample time and opportunity to focus on my art works.

Your art captures true to life landscapes. Is that a deliberate choice?

Yes, the landscapes in my art work are captured as they appear to me. Being part of such true life mosaics for so long has imprinted itself into my art, maybe by default rather than by design. I did paint a few works in a departure from this mode, but these images seem to carry more vibrancy and liveliness.

Art today is no longer limited to the canvas and has gone into video art, complex installations and mixed media. What is your comment on this trend?

I entirely agree that art has transcended into various forms going beyond the canvas and a number of creative works are being generated by the new generation of young artists. As of now, I am content to do my landscapes and maybe portraits on canvas and expand further in due course of time.

What are the materials you work with and colour palette that you use?

My preference is for oils and acrylic on canvas; vibrancy of colours splashed on to the canvas with serious attention to minute details is what makes me like the rhyme and rhythm in my artworks.

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