Nidhi Samani’s art is focused on nature’s tranquillity and the healing of the soul. Having lived in Singapore for twelve years now, she invited us for a chat at the lobby of The Westin hotel, where she reveals a pivotal moment for her art in her journey through Asia. In Bali, she felt an unexplainable affinity with Mount Agung, which famously erupted five times in 2017. After the disaster, however, it looks opposite from its fiery self, standing silent and sure, complete with a temple at its base. “I wanted to climb to the top,” she says, then adds with a laugh, “but I\’m not a hiker or anything”, and notes that the route had been, regrettably, sealed off anyway. But fate finds a way, and she recalls the breath-taking surprise of seeing the peak of the mountain through the clouds on board her plane as it took off. And that was the very moment which spurred her on to use mountains as expressions of her inner dimensions: in this case, the driving force that urges an artist to express her message.
According to Nidhi, inner dimensions exist in everyone, consisting of the mind and the soul. Travelling through Asia, she finds, is a new visual experience; from the fluttering of a Buddhist monk\’s saffron robes and misty mountains to koi fishes and lotuses. “We are all monks searching for our higher pursuits,” she says whilst explaining her Journeys Beyond series. It deals with the former two subject matters, which she finds most suitable to express the relationship between the spiritual world and the natural one. Nidhi claims that it is both the space we contain and occupy that invites meditation, to look within ourselves and form a greater connection with the world around us, such ideas bringing artists like Anthony Gormley to mind.
“Inner dimensions exist in everyone, consisting of the mind and the soul.”
Spirituality for Nidhi traces its roots all the way back to her childhood, in which her father guided her in the ways of the mind and soul. Not so much a religious person herself, she encourages viewers of all backgrounds and walks of faith to connect with these landscapes and their inner ones. This, she believes, can be achieved by letting them touch her artworks and their many textures the artist grafted upon them. Indeed, many have felt a sense of calm when interacting with her works, especially those who are used to a fast-paced lifestyle. Whilst she agrees that there are inspiring, scenic views in many such countries across the continent, she also acknowledges that most do not have time to immerse themselves in this serenity around them – which is why her works hold such importance. In other words, part of her mission is to bring this meditative tranquillity to those who are unable to reach it.
Ultimately, however, Nidhi is concerned about narratives, which she believes are shaped by various experiences in our lives – making it of no surprise why the concept of self-reflection and focusing on one\’s journey to reach a higher goal is one that resonates with her. Besides these narratives that lie in her works, Nidhi\’s own personal history has also subconsciously manifested in her style.
As the granddaughter of a revered doll-making artist, Nidhi was inspired to take up fashion design in the 1980s, to which she alludes the textural quality of her works. With her Zen: Inner Journeys series, she mixes flowing Chinese ink-like surfaces with rougher, more three-dimensional ones to portray the variety of subject matter in the pond setting that hosts a school of koi fishes. Interestingly enough, these layers seem to reflect Nidhi\’s philosophies of the self and stories, ultimately allowing her to weave a tapestry of her own story – and those of the generations before her – through her pieces.
Thank you Nidhi for sharing your insightful art journey with us and taking us closer to the Journeys Beyond.
Text by Neo Hui-Lyn