Artists seek divine inspiration

An interesting exhibition showcases works by several known artists who seek their inspiration in the divine, godly and saintly figures. So, the works bringing out the essence of great personas like Mahatma Gandhi, Guru Nanak, and Jesus form the theme of the show to which Amit Ambalal, Sunil Padwal, T Vaikuntam, Arpana Caur, Laxma Gaud, Samir Mondal and Krishen Khanna have contributed.

A great social reformer, Guru Nanak upheld the cause of women, and the poor. As an artist, Arpana Caur shares similar concerns. The artist elaborating on Nanak's philosophy, states she considers him the first medieval thinker.

Her work is meant to celebrate Guru Nanak's spirit. It revolves around the enlightenment of Guru Nanak, where he rises from the water and takes on a heavenly form. While drawing his heavenly body, she has used light strokes to convey its transience. Another artist to portray Guru Nanak is Gurucharan Singh who has produced a simple charcoal work.

Amit Ambalal has opted to paint Buddha. Just before he worked on the image, the artist happened to visit Burma and the artist had also visited Sri Lanka in 2002. After an informal voyage to India's scenic neighboring country along with some fellow artists he has painted Buddha, and seem to retain his fascination for Buddha. Obviously when he started thinking of a divine figure, none other than Lord Buddha could strike him. Then evolved the spiritual side of man to whom Buddha is showing the way. The artist is known for his usage of humor and irony to poignantly point out human nature in his paintings. In the Buddha painting he has added the crow as a motif that represents the opposite of divinity - the comical and questioning.

On other hand, Krishen Khanna's choice for his sketch is that of the Persian poet Rumi. The artist has often painted several works inspired by his lines, and the work that forms part of the show also has a few lines of poetry taken from Rumi's writings.

Sunil Padwal who has earlier participated in a show "A Sorrowful Mystery-Jesus Christ, National Gallery Of Modern Art, Mumbai, in 2000 again paints Jesus. According to the artist, his preference for Christ stems from the fact that the latter looks very human and not supernatural. In fact, the artist first painted Christ almost a decade ago. His Jesus looks 'modern', yet has an iconic feel to it.

Sunil Das and Suhas Roy are two other painters known for their images of Christ. They have opted to depict the Christ's 'divine state of agony'. Suhas Roy's Christ is now a part of the prestigious collections of the Vatican, a rare honor for any artist. The artist painted his first Christ sometime in the 1970s, and has since portrayed Jesus innumerable times, in pencil, pastel and oil.

Veteran artist Laxma Gaud has carved images of Lord Ganesha in terracotta and also in bronze. "When he was asked to create his favorite divine image for the exhibition, he decided to work on the image of Lord Ganesha who is worshipped before marking a new venture. The deity is considered very sacred and auspicious symbol. Jogen Chowdhury has also worked on the Ganapathy albeit somewhat cynical of society and surroundings.

Babu Xavier has brought out the mischievous character of Lord Krishna, depicting his playful pranks. In the work put up by him, Krishna is hiding behind a rock, and the women are trying to locate him. Another artist to showcase his work as part of the show is T Vaikuntam. He has painted Krishna as a ubiquitous person from Andhra Pradesh with a flute serenading one of the local belles. Lord Krishna is the God who mingled with the masses, and the artist in an effort to bring out this quality has painted him like a local man.

Samir Mondal seeks inspiration from Mother Teresa. He has worked in watercolor to bring out her divine qualities and good deeds. The artist describes her as an inspiring and saintly figure and tries to bring out these qualities. Akbar Padamsee, on other hand, is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, who employed person who used non-violence, to fight colonialism without resorting to violence is like Buddha reborn,' he says. The show continues at Hacienda Art Gallery till November 29, 2005.

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