For Japan-born artist Yuriko Lochan, the lotus holds a special place in her bed of childhood memories, starting with her strong fondness for a large lotus pond, harboured within an ancient emperor’s tomb in the neighbourhood she grew up in Osaka. On most days, she would stand and stare at the large swaying leaves of the lotus and observe its form for long hours. Her excitement grew manifold every time she tried to discover what lay beneath its leaves and under the shadowed water. Filled with varying activities of living creatures, the entire space surrounding the flower stay lit with life, busy with water birds, varieties of fish and many kinds of insects. Her fascination with the flower reveals why she continues to use the lotus as a recurrent theme in her current exhibition “Lotus Odyssey” at Artistique gallery in Gurgaon.
Married to artist and director of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Rajeev Lochan, Yuriko, 53, has been living in India for more than 25 years. As she gets talking about her 39 paintings on display, centred around the lotus, using gouache and watercolour on Japanese Shikishi paper board, she says, “Lotus symbolises concepts related to the evolution of human life in many parts of the world. I have always been fascinated with the flower’s nature as something that draws its beauty from the grossness of mud and yet stands tall, oozing divinity. The human soul is like that, uncontaminated by worldly affairs. The plant acquires interesting natural forms, which leaves the artist with innumerable possibilities to express it.”
The landscapist has chosen colours from a palette of pink, red, green, blue, fuschia and black to paint a different lotus in each canvas, giving it a different mood, emotion, surrounding and form. The triad in the “Divination” series (I,II and III) reveals the many stages of a lotus, set against a pale grey background — a bud is about to blossom, a flower appears to be disintegrating and a bleak bent pod stands without any petals. Yuriko lets them act as a metaphor for the many stages of human life, terming it a “meditation on the human anticipation of destiny”. The bud takes centrestage again in her “Fluid” series, as it turns pink from green, and then slowly mushrooms to reveal its full glory.
The artist has fiercely coloured a lotus in red, its petals encircling its illuminated bright yellow centre in Full circle – Inner Light, part of her series “Full Circle”, which Yuriko says describes the state where she has now arrived. Most of her paintings are a revelation of the artist absorbing the vast beauty of nature, mulling over it and finally turning it into sublime images. The show is a continuation of her engagement with the varied facets of the lotus, much like her exhibition “Hana-The Lotus” at the India International Centre in 2014.
Yuriko lets life serve as inspiration for most of her work, as she says, “Living in the contemporary age, where all knowledge and aspects of human life are accounted in the ‘virtual space’, where anything and everything is replicated as ‘information’, I realise that we still are the same human beings bound with time; physical as well as emotional self; who are born, grow old and perish. As an artist, I create a work of art with mortal material, to represent the immortal truth of life.”