‘The earth stories’

We call the Earth a mother. Always giving, nurturing, and protecting. She goes through a million changes physically and emotionally… Shalu Juneja speaks with N. LOTHUNGBENI HUMTSOE

Despite our ignorant vices, the earth continues to provide and nurture mankind in the same way that a mother does. Shalu Juneja, has been an artist for over 13 years, her works focus on figurative and the abstract, they allude to the female form and the earth as the mother. Juneja is also the director and co-founder of Uno Lona Academy.

Her interest in these themes stems from her daily memories, experiences, and interactions, in which she questions the impact of words and actions on a mother, in the form of a female body, or on the earth as a whole.

Shalu speaks about her most recent art series, “The Earth Stories”, an observation of the chaos she finds within nature resulting in accidents within her works, which are a direct reference to the accidental experiences of real-life – good or bad.

What served as the impetus for your most recent art series, “The Earth Stories”?

Shalu: My practice is largely concerned with themes of womanhood, motherhood, and the continuous changes that we experience as humans over time. My interest in these themes is motivated by my memories, experiences, and interactions in daily life – questioning the impact of words and actions on a mother, in the form of a female body or the earth as a whole. The Earth Stories is an extension of these ideas where I, for the first time, break away from figurative representation to explore abstract forms and compositions.

Why is motherhood in particular a source of inspiration? There are so many incredible things to be inspired.

Shalu: We call the Earth a mother. Always giving, nurturing, and protecting. She goes through a million changes physically and emotionally. The Earth gives us in abundance and we take to that point of greediness as a result, the whole ecosystem stands disturbed. I wish to address that feature – especially the change – caused due to the constant abuse and greed that humanity has brought upon the Earth.

Could you give us a brief description of each of the four paintings in the series?

Shalu: All these paintings speak of changing topography that we experience through documented satellite imagery. This imagery captures changes over time and my paintings are an attempt to capture those changes while addressing humanity’s role in them. Just as we humans take certain actions that often harm the earth, I take actions in my painting that don’t necessarily harm my paintings, but metaphorically suggest the same aggression and violence that we often use against the earth.

In these works, you’ll find 2 different ways of working. One: where I attempt to directly represent the topography taking inspiration from satellite imagery and two: where I create a much more organic composition that is a result of action painting or mark making on paper or on canvas.

With your most recent collection, what message are you conveying to people?

Shalu: My works generally talk of changing patterns and textures around me, observed from the micro to the macro level. My process is based on such visual changes. Each time I make a mark, burn or add a layer to my canvas I speak of the transformation that occurs within nature in relation to humanity. So these works are perhaps an attempt to make us more conscious about our actions on Earth considering the grave dangers we now face because of climate change, war, waste, and more.

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