“While accepting gifts from nature, man became greedy,” writes rabindranath tagore while talking about nature conservation through plantation.
Tagore talks about the brick and mortar nature of civilizations as a contradiction to nature. Yesterday was World nature conservation day, and the realisation becomes even more stark that the contemporary urban civilisation will never be able to experience nature unless it is cut and pruned and shaped and controlled.
However, brick and mortar can only control nature half-heartedly, as Paash says ‘Mein Ghaas hun, tumhare har kiye dhare par ug aunga’, reminding of the old unattended tombs bombarded by an expanse of wild creepers creeping from the weathered creeks. For a city dweller, nature is mythologised as ‘what once was’, perhaps that is the reason why Svabhu Kohli’s renditions of nature appear magical, mythical and mesmerising.
Svabhu’s digital artworks delineate nature and conservation through fantastical frames, lived in by flora and fauna of the wild, of the sea, far away from our brick and mortar realty. Each frame is lived in with luminescent colours drawn in careful details of nature where the trees, whales, octopuses and turtles converse with mycelium, mountains, oceans and skies.
His works bring to attention the imbalance in nature created by the brick and mortared philosophies of development, which have pushed the existence of various species to an alarming nothing. It makes us think of the politicized nature of ecology, about the language and vocabulary used in today’s policy-making which has defined ecology as a resource.
Svabhu Kohli is a visual artist whose practice centres around eco-activism, involving the viewer in a narrative with nature. He has worked with google arts and culture, start india foundation, hachette book group, ted x bangalore, the ark, penguin books, etc. His work has been featured on platform magazine, Homegrown, brown paper bag, my modern met etc.