Writer, political activist and painter, Jagdish Swaminathan, drew inspiration for his work from folk and tribal art, Pahari miniatures and Indian mythology. Closely affiliated with the Delhi based artist association Group 1890, their manifesto 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).
Embracing the metaphorical quality of the surrealists while preserving the formal qualities of Indian miniatures, Swaminathan went through two phases based on the theme of "the bird, the mountain, the tree, the reflection, the shadow." (G. Kapur, Contemporary Indian Art, London, 1982, p. 7). The first phase occurred in the 1960s and he returns to this subject again in the 1980s. 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 colour traversed by stylised 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." (J. Swaminathan, 'The Cygan, An Auto-bio note,' Lalit Kala Contemporary 40, New Delhi, 1995, p. 11).
This painting, one of the largest works in this series, painted at the height of Swaminathan's artistic prowess, reflects the delicate balance between the compositional and cosmic elements.