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Symbolism in Salonika Meattle Aggarwal’s paintings

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Salonika Meattle Aggarwal’s paintings might look like a mere piece of art to you but every element on the canvas comes with a deeper meaning. Read on to know more about the artist’s love for symbolism and significance behind the use of different elements.

There are different plants and animals that one you can see in Salonika Meattle Aggarwal’s paintings. But they have not been added because she wanted to fill in white spaces on canvas. Symbolism is the most prominent aspect of her paintings. One element that stands common in all her artworks is the use of succulents.

This, she says, is done on purpose. “In Feng Shui, succulents signify abundance. So, if someone wants to create wealth, they should have succulents around them. Jade plant is the luckiest succulent for creating wealth. I love adding jade plants in my paintings,” she shares.

Salonika dedicates abundant time in thinking about plants before making a painting. In fact, she purposely adds some lucky plants, as they add positivity to an abode, without making any effort.

An artwork with red salvia being showcased at the exhibition.

“I like putting orchids and jade as they are the luckiest plants. In one of the paintings, you will see red salvia. It has been added as it is extremely good for health. If someone wants good health, they should have red salvia around them. Similarly, bamboo symbolises good health and brings strength. Sansevieria (also known as Mother-in-law’s tongue) is a protective plant. It helps in warding off evil eye. I have also used banana leaves in some artworks. They boost confidence, symbolise freedom and are considered extremely sacred in Hindu mythology,” she explains.

When asked why butterflies, bees and ladybirds are a part of all artworks, she replied, “They have been added as they bring good luck. If you see the way in which bees are made, they should not have the ability to fly. But, despite their structure, they fly. Then, they are important for pollination and are called miracle insects. So, they are lucky in that sense. Ladybirds bring luck but in the form of lady luck and good fortune.”

The symbolism in Salonika's paintings not only stands for plants and creatures, but also for animals. Those making to the canvas are parrots, hummingbird, rabbits and squirrels. Explaining the use of these animals, she says, “Parrots bring money. Hummingbird, rabbits and squirrels are considered to be lucky charm.”

Her love for symbolism and learning about meaning(s) of different elements in nature led her to research on different symbols. “I learnt most of it on my own through books or by studying. I have spent 18 years reading about symbols and the last 22 years in painting,” she shares.

Before finding this love, she studied management from the Cambridge University and ran her own company. She also went to the College of Art to pursue art as a summer school. However, she learnt art on her own.

“I experimented with a lot with colours and materials and learnt the nuances of art by trying out different things. I worked in every medium – from watercolours, charcoal and acrylics to oil,” she says.

But what remained stagnant was her fondness for nature, especially animals, plants and flowers. This, she says, was something that was part of her childhood. “I always had a garden in my house. My grandparents, both from my maternal and paternal side, were very fond of gardening. So, I have grown surrounded by plants and they have been extremely close to me. My father is an environmentalist and he started ‘Save the Tree’ organisation when I was just eight years ago. So, for me, conservation and the idea to stay close to plants has always been there,” she says.

Salonika is showcasing her first solo show ‘Nature’s Mystique’ at Bikaner House, New Delhi till March 31.

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