The one thing that modern art gives us, such as that by Kavitha Saminathan, is canvasses of pure delight. No longer is it necessary for viewers of art to be well informed of the story behind a painting or the absolute context of a visual work. Because of the way art has grown since the time of the impressionists, an art lover is now able to visit an exhibit and view paintings of raw emotion. Mind you, that’s not a guarantee that the art in question will be beautiful or even pleasant; let’s face it, emotion can be an ugly thing, and art might just reflect that quality. Imagine a work that visualizes hatred, or anger, or fear. Where the art of Kavitha Saminathan is concerned, however, you have no need to fear seeing depictions of the darker side of human emotions. With her use of colour, texture and—to some degree—subject matter, there’s little of “ the dark side” in her art. Indeed, by and large, I’d have to say that the primary emotion depicted in Saminathan’s art is “delight.”
There is something rudimentary about Saminathan’s palate that relates directly to the vestigial expression of joy and delight. Contemplate a child’s picture of hearth and home that uses the primary and some common secondary colours with the blue skies, white clouds, green grass and so on, you can get the understanding of the joy that Saminathan’s art emits. Then add to that child’s art skill, technique, mature perspective and gradients in colour, then you get a better idea of the type of art that Saminathan creates. The colours alone suggest nothing but contentment, peace and joy, and any of her works seem to instill that same emotional sense to her viewers. It’s extraordinary!
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Saminathan’s use of texture is especially intriguing to me. It gives her work a certain sense of weight and stability that I find excruciatingly difficult to articulate. This stability suggests a certain permanence, or a stark contrast, anyway, with whatever may be more fleeting. Perhaps on a symbolic level, it suggests that the joy and contentment are the foundation of our emotions while any turmoil we may experience along the way is more superficial and transient. Consider her works, “Always Beside You” and “Together Always.” The texture for the entirety of these canvases impresses on me the idea of a stucco wall, as though her art is displayed, not by being hung on a wall, but as though it’s painted directly on that wall, and is, therefore, as permanent as the wall is. As a result, the texture seems to validate or harmonize with the title of both of these. I could almost convince myself that such is the case if it weren’t for the gradient of colour—lighter to darker—from the centre of the painting to the edges. That gradient effectively denies the idea of the art being on a wall, and yet, it doesn’t negate the sense of that symbolic permanence either. I have found her work very perplexing in this regard.
She does use texture in other ways. In “Poppy Paradise,” texture gives a sense of realism to her depiction of the red flowers, even though the texture of the negative space gives the “stucco” appearance once again and seems to deny the realism of the poppies. The texture gives this work, in particular, a playfulness that is not lacking in the others, but that seems to take on a prominence here.
Finally, there is her subject matter to contemplate. On one level her subjects seem to consist of the birds and the trees, as it were. These are certainly part of her subject matter, but they’re primarily symbolic themselves. The subject matter of her art, and part of the sense of permanence in it, can be found in the titles of her work: love, relationship, affection, bonding, togetherness, care, support. If these “things” (for want of a better term) are ever transient, then they were never real. Saminathan paints the things in life that do last, that MUST last. Consider that every time she includes birds, there is something relational about the title. The birds themselves could just as well be bees or deer or elk or fox or goats because the birds are not really the subject; the ethereal stability of love is the subject.
Mind you, Saminathan’s art does not negate the intermittent presence of hardship in our lives. Indeed, while it is understated in her art, its reality is among the first thing that may enter a viewer’s mind when he or she considers a painting such as, “Cherishing the Moment.” So there is acknowledgement of tragedy, pain, sorrow, loss and all such things. But the message that comes through points to the solidity, the strength, the security of the realities of life. In fact, it is never the negatives that garner strength from the good things in life; it is always the cyclic appearance of the negatives that add to the lasting nature, the stability, the permanence of the qualities of relationships, and that is also part of the joy and delight that comes with Saminathan’s art. It is a poignant depiction of the fruit (hence the trees, perhaps?) of human nobility: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.
About the Writer:
A. J. Mittendorf is an avid art lover who has studied art history, art appreciation and art interpretation, for more than two decades. His Master’s degree is in Literature and his undergraduate degree is in English Education. As an educator, he enjoys writing for an online, international art magazine, Art, Artists, Artwork so he can use his educational background and skills in the field of art to help promote artists and help buyers select the art that is best for them.