By S. Ravi
New Delhi, July 20: Facing pain and a near-death situation can change the outlook and the passion for life. This appears to be the case with Seema Mathew, who took to painting with steadfast devotion after her encounter with cancer.
She is currently holding her exhibition – her first solo show – in Hong Kong.
Born in Bengaluru, art for Mathew was a hobby like many other Indian children. Although she draws perpetually, she only started some sort of formal training when she moved to Hong Kong in 2000. Although self-taught, she took art classes on weekends and did not. chose the brush only when she had time!
A twist of fate, and everything changed when, for the second time, she was found to have breast cancer.
Mathew’s first encounter with the dreaded disease in 2004 did not lead to any drastic change. She got better and instead of continuing to be a travel agent, she decided to sell art supplies. It was the second time, when the cancer returned with a vengeance that made it both traumatic and frightening, that she made a life-changing decision: pursue her dream of painting full time!
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, she said, “I always felt like the universe was trying to push me in this direction, I just never really listened. I now know that painting is what I was really born to be.
The artist’s personal exhibition is called “Origa-me”, which is also the name of one of his works. The painting depicts a torso – in black and white fragments – that appear to have been put together to design a new shape, much like the Japanese art of paper folding, origami.
Elucidating on the piece, which is obviously the show’s main one, Mathew said, “The idea for Origa-me arose out of my actual experience of undergoing several reconstructive surgeries in 2012. Body as a cut and paste version of itself, like an origami.
The works on display have a deep connection to her and embody the relationship between her and her body, which valiantly fought against cancer.
She told scmp.com: “When I paint, I always choose to focus on my inner landscape, my emotions and my thought processes. Art keeps me motivated, as I always seek to challenge myself by constantly trying something new and pushing the boundaries of what I already know.
The current exhibition came about after five years of the artist’s work in which she used India ink and water-soluble graphite on linen paper to highlight the similarities between the human anatomy and the natural world.
According to Mathew, the painting was a catharsis for her because it gave her insight into spirituality, philosophy and human nature.
Art has given Mathew a vital catharsis, she says, and gives him a way to work visually through his spirituality, his philosophies and his understanding of human nature. Painting has helped her a lot to cope with all the suffering she has gone through while making her positive.
Mathew believes that each individual must find their own way to cope with life. “We all have a choice in how we react to different situations. I tried to convert my most traumatic and negative experience into something quite beautiful. If the public takes one thing away from this exhibit, I hope they will understand that traumatic experiences don’t have to bring them down. We all have choices in how we react to these kinds of situations, and we can turn those experiences into something positive. “
Mathew’s exhibition runs until July 31. (IANS)