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 1960's and he returns to this subject in the 1980's.
Swaminathan's inspiration for this series came from his close affiliation with the Delhi based artist association entitled Group 1890. The manifesto of the group called for the total abandonment of Western modernism and for the rejection of the "vulgar naturalism and pastoral idealism of the Bengal School," while simultaneously encouraging artists to "see phenomena in its virginal state." (Y. Kumar (ed.), Indian Contemporary Art Post Independence, New Delhi, 1997, p. 298.)
Swaminathan's works of this period are the visual manifestations of the artist's perception of the "virginal state" of nature. Consisting of flat planes of bright color traversed by stylized mountains, trees, stones and birds, these landscapes, although representative of objects in nature, function within a purely conceptual framework. "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." (G. Kapur, Contemporary Indian Art, London, 1982, p. 7.)