by LAUREN CODLING

ART featuring Hindu deities and classic Indian tales is part of a new creative project which aims to “spread spirituality back into the world” and “bring people together”.

Online gallery art-ma features a varied collection of spiritual pieces by contemporary and traditional artists in a range of artistic styles. The company – which takes its name from the Sanskrit term ‘ātma’ – is working with around 10 artists from across the globe, including Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, UK, Bahrain, India and Ghana.

Co-founder Reena Popat is eager to highlight the positive values behind the origins of the gallery.

“Art-ma hopes to connect people with spirituality and bring them together using art as the medium,” she said. “Spiritual art allows people to come together and look beyond their
differences. It doesn’t matter what colour, caste, creed or religion you are. It all leads to one truth.”

Giampaolo Tomassetti’s first featured work with art-ma is Ganesha – Cosmic Dance, a depiction of the worshipped Hindu deity

Any partnerships with artists always link back to their focus on spirituality, Popat stressed.

“There is always that spiritual connect,” she explained. “The artists already have some spiritual connection, or they have produced artworks where the ideals, style, and technique we feel would be a perfect fit for art-ma. With several of our current artists, the vision just comes from within, as they are painting. The works produced allow you to share that vision.”

Giampaolo Tomassetti is one of the artists whose work is exclusively featured by art-ma. The Italian artist is set to provide a series of work for the art agency. His first featured work is
Ganesha – Cosmic Dance, a depiction of the worshipped Hindu deity. Tomassetti, who is currently based in Florence, met Eastern Eye and Popat in London on Monday (21) to discuss his collaboration with art-ma and his thoughts on spirituality.

He initially got involved with art-ma after being approached by Popat and founder Nilesh Patel around four years ago. The pair were drawn to Tomassetti as his previous work linked to art that dealt with Indian legends and mythologies. Starting in 2008, he worked on 23 large paintings based on the Indian epic Mahabharata – arguably his most famous project.

Giampaolo Tomassetti produced 23 large paintings based on the Indian epic Mahabharata

His journey into spirituality came when he had experiences with the Hare Krishna movement, whose core beliefs are based on Hindu scriptures, when he was younger.

“I was a monk for some time, and it completely changed my lifestyle,” he recalled.

Soon after, he began to paint subjects that were related to the Mahabharata text, which were then fused with his own western experiences and styles. For instance, nearer the beginning of his artistic career, Tomassetti produced paintings in a Neo-Renaissance style, an approach which continued to influence him throughout his work.

“We started joining our western experience with the Indian culture,” he said. “When I decided to join art-ma, this was the kind of experience they wanted to promote.”

His work is not straight-forward at first look – Tomassetti is intent on creating paintings that show various elements the more a person views them.

Art-ma is featuring work by Italian artist Giampaolo Tomassetti

“Reality is not only what we see in front of us,” he explained. “It is what is completely around us. I want to express that reality has many dimensions and I hope to capture them all within my paintings.”

The Mahabharata paintings – widely circulated on social media in India – are kept in the Museum of Spiritual Art (MOSA) at Villa Vrindavana, Florence, Italy. However, in the future,
art-ma hopes to showcase the collection in other countries, including India.

“We are very keen to share these works with the world,” Popat said.