Dairy Arts Center

In Search of Personal Icons: Sangeeta Reddy

In Search of Personal Icons

Sangeeta Reddy

May 10th – July 14th, 2024

Bound in the rock formations are joy and melancholy, loss and desire. 

The act of recognition–of examination and analysis–of drawing a piece of land or a rock formation and of interpreting and expressing it, is, at once, an act of surrender and possession. Perhaps even an act of spiritual recognition. It is no wonder sages from times long ago separated from religious dogma and wandered into the mountains or forests to ponder such ideas in isolation. 

Both my early abstraction and present landscape work reflect my lifelong search for a personal way to understand the ancient mysteries of our being and the conundrums within it as inspired by a 5th Century philosopher, Shankara. The curiosity of something larger than our individual selves and yet, an integral part: us. The sense of belonging to something that inspires awe. 

Icons. All over India, along roadways, streams, forests, and mountains are scattered tiny shrines built on a protruding stone, Devi amid the roots of an ancient tree, the dripping of water on a mound of ice symbolic perhaps of Shiva–that most reclusive of Hindu gods. In the modest Hanuman temple my mother took us to on Saturday evenings, the main deity anointed in vermilion paint was nothing more real than an excavated rock that had been discovered to be the representation of Hanuman, Lord Rama’s most devoted servant. 

The artist’s path is one of immersion, discovery, and realization. Parallel is the path of the monk. The process is the destination. 

Where earlier, I wanted to depict the vastness of the landscape, I’ve found myself, in the last two years, moving toward isolating and zooming into the particular rock formations themselves. The rock is symbolic of solidity, which I try to approach now in a more diffident, delicate way. Movements are micro rhythms, mimicking the smallest laps and shear of ancient water bodies. Millenia is traced in a hundred brush strokes. 

The making of art as ritual. 

Ritual being practice. Ritual being meditation, cleansing, preparation.

Is the ritual of deification an effrontery or supplication? 

Amid the willful destruction of sacred lands, primordial forests, desertification of grasslands, and polluting the environment, the practice of reverence can be useful. One hopes preservation is the natural precedent to consecration. If we hold something in awe, recognizing its inherently non-monetary value, perhaps we will do a better job of protecting it as it relates to taking care of the earth. 

The search for the sacred is always elusive. The search for beauty is a search for the divine.

This search tethers me as an artist back to my own origins. I find serendipity in my present location in the Front Range, where I can once more connect to the rocks I left behind, inspired anew by the red rock formations that connect geologic time to our present. 

Public Programming


About the Artist:

Sangeeta Reddy (b. 1955, Hyderabad, India) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work is filtered through her first generation immigrant experience, creating between two cultures in which Modernism’s legacies are engaged through abstraction and representation. She studied English literature, philosophy and fine art both in India and the US and has participated in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally since 1985. Among others, her landscapes are in the permanent collections of Denver Art Museum and Littleton Art Museum. She lives and works in Littleton, Colorado.

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MARCH 2020

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