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Sy-Zy-Gy | The Close Union

In creative terms, it can be said that Sarla Chandra’s art is an inspired dive into Quantum physics – the study of matter and energy at the most fundamental level. Her paintings serve as a powerful visual metaphor for harmony, order and power – concepts that drive the stability and balance in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world.

In philosophy ‘Syzygy’ (pronounced si-zi-ji) derived from a Greek word, refers to ‘Close Union’. In astronomy, it is the concurrence and coming together of celestial bodies in a unique configuration, to create an extraordinary spectacle.

A full moon night, a new moon sky, lunar and solar eclipses are such occurrences when planets align – to bring magic to the universe. In many cultures, this astronomic alignment is seen as a sign of divine intervention. 

Artist Sarla Chandra invokes this magical phenomenon in her latest series Syzygy – that explores the cyclical movement of celestial bodies in the cosmic world. Her childhood desire to stargaze, while watching the night skies and her curiosity for astronomy only deepened with time, as she continued to draw insights into the mysterious relationship between Man and Universe. 

As a human, she says, “I could never reach the stars, so I would imagine taking the form of a bird, that can fly high, reach the skies and see these celestial bodies up and close.” What followed, was a voyage into eternity – a spectacular parade of ‘orbs’ that dissolves space, time and distance. 

In her new series Syzygy, Sarla has used metallic colors upon textured paper, often against black, to reflect the darkness, depth and vastness of our universe. 

In sharp contrast, she also uses her trademark medium of radiant silver and golden foil or ‘Varakh’ to highlight the paths planets travel.  Stars, planets and orbits dazzle with a luminescent golden light in Sarla’s paintings – taking us along a meditative path. 

The interplay of brilliant light, lines and textures, both upon forms and formless subjects, aglow with energy, becomes a tactile experience and therefore creates a powerful gravitational pull into her art.

The age-old practice of Vedic chanting, sound and cosmic vibrations that always inspired Sarla, also find a unique expression in her paintings. 

With her in-depth study of Indian scriptures, she began to see the ancient texts as a form of ‘asemic’ writing – a script that was perhaps once understood by the ancients but was now lost to the new, younger generation. 

In Syzygy, she uses the lyrical tool of asemic writing in the form of collages- an open form of abstract expressionism, and produces a body of work that can be considered wordless and subtextual. 

She also uses the meditative technique of ‘collage’ to make connections between isolated images and nature’s Five Elements, probing concepts like form and matter. This lends a layered narrative of subjects close to her heart – like science, spirituality, philosophy and astronomy. 

In Sarla’s own words, “There are times when one wants to be at peace, to be in perfect alignment with oneself, with others around us and with the universe. 

That is when I pick up my brush, paints and canvas. I walk into the Great Forest – the ‘Brihad Aranyaka’, to become lost in its vastness of thought, to become surrounded with multiple constellations of energy and ultimately achieve the singular, meditative state of Syzygy”.


A thinking, bold and experimental artist, Sarla Chandra’s tryst with art and Indian culture has spanned over fifty years. With more than 50 solo exhibitions and 40 group shows to her credit, her signature paintings are treasured by connoisseurs of art all over the world. 

Born in 1943, Sarla is a post graduate in science from the prestigious St. John’s College, Agra. However, subjects that have always fascinated her like Indian philosophy, mythology and the scriptures – have slowly manifested themselves onto her canvas. She has experimented with a variety of mediums – oils, acrylics, watercolours, etchings, lithographs, but her unique use of ‘bhojpatra’-parchment, ‘repousse’-metal embossing and ‘varakh’-gold and silver foil are unorthodox techniques that recreate the aura of our ancient cultural heritage. MORE

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About Hansa Piparsania

An independent writer-photographer and art curator, Hansa is a visual artist deeply interested in art, culture and design. An avid traveler, she has explored and lived in many countries. With dual Master’s degrees in Business Administration (IMI Delhi) and Social Media Communications (Sophia Mumbai), her time in JWT Mumbai (in advertising), FM Radio Oman (as live anchor), Madras Craft Foundation (in media and marketing), always ran parallelly with her passion for art history, research and photography.

Hansa’s creative contributions have featured in travel and lifestyle journals whereas her work with National Museums in Bangkok, Thailand and Manila, Philippines, while spearheading the Museum Lecture Series, gave her the forum to make insightful presentations on Indian art, culture and history. 

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