Khilwatri
A Series of Paintings
2012 - 2021

Khilwatri (translated “lotus leaves”) is a series of works that explores the bodies of water in Kashmir that host multiple life forms, among them the lotus, which has since antiquity acquired a symbolic importance in Kashmir’s culture and history. The paintings are produced from particular angles and perspectives to emphasize the dark waters that the lotus leaves float on, in order to create an aura of mystery about the depths. In Kashmir, two lakes (the Dal and the Wular) are widely recognized for the setting the stage for the lotus, and coincidentally both have seen severe ecological and environmental decay through sewage waste dumping and encroachment issues covered by the local media. Once fit and safe for swimming, these bodies of water among several others have shown great levels of contamination to the extent that their waters are no longer safe for domestic use or reuse. The Khilwatri series focused on elaborating a synecdochic representation such that one, in not being able to discern the location-specificity of a landscape or site, is prompted to submerge in the visuals that point to a greater and familiar history among the native populace. My intended purpose was to create a head-first yet harmonious confrontation between each painting and the viewer, almost from a bird’s eye view that seeks to decipher what lies beneath the water’s surface but never arriving at a concrete answer, in the hope of igniting a contemplation of the natural world that we Kashmiris take for granted.