Jagdish Swaminathan believed that art belonged to the realms of freedom and the imagination. True art is reality. It does not translate nor recreate reality and it does not aspire to represent or narrate life. As Swaminathan has written, "The face of art is somewhat like that of the sun. It does not communicate but gives." (Artist Statement from 'The Perceiving Fingers', reprinted in Lalit Kala Contemporary, New Delhi, Issue 40, March 1995, p. 63)
Underlying his oeuvre is a deep spiritual reverence that seeks to reveal truth through nature. In the late 1960s and 1970s, following his The Colour Geometry of Space series where he explored flat geometric planes of colour, Swaminathan began combining elements from nature in his conceptual landscapes. Embracing the metaphorical quality of the surrealists while preserving the formal qualities of Indian miniature painting, mountains, trees, rocks and an archetypal bird defying gravity juxtaposed against a pure expanse of colour, inhabited his canvases. This induced the meditative stillness that became the artist's obsession. He borrowed the term 'numinous image' from Philip Rawson to speak about his 'para-natural', magical and mysterious space that is not obvious but is inherent everywhere. As seen in Untitled (Bird and Tree), the canvases of this period achieve a heightened level of peace and tranquility.