Root of the Matter

Artist Yuriko Lochan on the power of the motif of a flower, working in India for 27 years, and leaving behind performance arts for traditional Indian and Japanese forms.

Published: April 4, 2014 1:26 am
Yuriko Lochan Yuriko Lochan

Artist Yuriko Lochan on the power of the motif of a flower, working in India for 27 years, and leaving behind performance arts for traditional Indian and Japanese forms

On a weekday morning at India International Centre’s annexe gallery, one finds a lean Japanese woman conversing with a gallery staff in Hindi. The gallery walls behind her are dotted with the recurring motif of a lotus —  translucent images against sublime aqueous background.

The traditional Japanese canvas of shikishi, a thick glossy canvas with a golden base, renders a certain delicacy to the flora, even a strong cultural base. When Yuriko Ando Lochan, a Delhi-based artist with her roots in Japan, finally turns her attention to the writer with a “Bataayien?”, we discard any cultural expectations, wisely so.

The 51-year-old is currently showcasing “Hana-The Lotus”, an exhibition of her works that indulge in the varied facets of the lotus. The show has been shifted from IIC annexe gallery to Art Indus gallery. “I have been working with flowers for many years. Since I come from Japan, as an artist, I’m always trying to find out how I can assimilate myself in this foreign land,” she says. The flower first emerged in the form of amaltas in her initial paintings, the yellow flowers that bloom in abundance in the Capital, allowing the artist to delve into femininity and exploration of identities. “This is the first time I have used the lotus,” she says.

The lotus here imbibes the ancient connotations of purity and, most significantly, shakti. “It symbolises the soul not touched by the dirt and rising above the impurity of the world. This is something I personally aim at too,” says Lochan. Created between 2012 and 2014, the paintings are a direct connection with home too. The materials, for one, are purchased from Osaka, where her parents live. “In Osaka, lotuses grow near my sister’s house. I also go to the temple in Nara and take photographs of the beautiful lotuses in the area,” says Lochan.

In Delhi for 27 years now, the artist’s oeuvre, with the “Hana” series, goes through a crossover. The artist would often appear in her own paintings, a nude rising from an ethereal sea (Emergence, 1993) or a minimalistic presence as a small figure in the backdrop in others. From figurative paintings and Indian miniature style, to using abstract symbols from Hindu philosophy and to employing the metaphor of flowers, the artist welcomes a new phase. Standing in front of Tranquility, a giant flower against abstract pastel hues painted over four canvas, she says,”I have now emerged out of my paintings, and can view them from outside.”

Lochan’s engagement with Japanese materials and traditional forms of art is also a far cry from what the artist was doing before her move to Delhi. A performance artist when she was at Kyoto City University of Arts, Lochan helped found Dumbtype, an artists’ collective internationally known for its fusion of the body and new media. “We used to get together to engage in forms of performance, installation and new media. But I just don’t feel the need to go back to performance anymore,” she says. After her marriage to National Gallery of Modern Art director Rajeev Lochan, and the subsequent move to India, Lochan has explored Indian traditional forms, which eventually led her back to her roots. “I had understood the Indian visual culture. Now I have to continue to understand my own,” she says.

“Hana- The Lotus” continues at Art Indus gallery, 7,Santushti Complex,Chanakyapuri, till April 12. Contact: 26883738

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