Swaminathan went through two phases where he painted "the bird the mountain the tree the reflection the shadow" in different settings. The first phase was in the 1960s and he returns to this subject in the 1980s.
The motivation for this series was Swaminathan's interest in the relationship between Indian art and nature. He believed, that unlike Western art, Indian art was not meant to represent reality and nature objectively. Rather, he was interested in "evoking the magical potency of the folk and tribal cultures which are still alive and contemporary." (Geeta Kapur, Contemporary Indian Art, London, 1982, p. 6.) Even though his landscapes refer to objects in nature, they are used within a conceptual framework. The resulting compositions are dominated by flat planes of bright color, on which appear stylized mountains, birds, trees and stones. "Swaminathan treats images like the numen in nature - that is metaphorically, but in a sense where the metaphor is now detached from the material-mythical world, and lifted into the ethereal spheres of lyric art and poetry." (Geeta Kapur, op. cit., p. 7.)