Saraswati, the term means one who has found the essence of ownself. Saraswati stands for truth, the core inside each one where the fragrance is. She is shown as a simple village girl, who has gathered some lotuses and is on her way to make offerings. The Sun (representing the higher self guiding with energy), the “bindi” on her forehead (representing the awareness of her thoughts), the lotus held close to her heart (representing the purity in her emotions), and her steps (representing her actions) are all in alignment.
Size: 30″ X 40″
Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas Board
Price: Rs. 1,00,000
Additional shipping cost: Would vary depending on location. Once the postal address is sent, the cost can be informed.
Shipping information: It is painted on a canvas board. Therefore, the canvas can not be rolled for shipping. It is additionally framed. It can be packed in a wooden crate and dispatched.
Size with frame: 37″ X 47″
Weight: 10 kgs (with frame)
Approximate time of completion: 20 – 25 days passively and actively being involved.
I was returning from Gurgaon, having met an institute for the visiting faculty position. I had quit my job to have more time to paint and I wanted a part-time occupation to keep me going.
On the way back to grab a quick lunch at the metro station, I went inside the Huda City Centre. While I was munching my food there, I wondered about the next artwork I would begin. Now that I have moved from pen on paper to canvas, I should utilize the opportunity to explore more dimensions. I had already created an artwork of Saraswati in mostly black on white. Could I do one more having explored the colours? But if it is an artwork of Saraswati, it should be predominantly white.
There was an artist I had met who had suggested to me that paintings with spiritual themes should be lighter in colour to reflect the “calmness”. My colours were too strong. I thought, could I create an artwork to experiment that? Mix every colour that I use with white to represent Saraswati in that pleasant, soothing atmosphere?
Or, lets not get blinded by just that surface — Saraswati is Truth and Truth is white and therefore the painting should be white, how obvious. What does truth mean to me? What is that path? If I rather explored that I would be able to depict many other dimensions.
And then I started to look into my own life. What does the quest for Truth look like? The qualities essential are to be humble, introspective, innocent and self-reliant. I wanted to paint a young village girl, innocent and lost (or rather found) in her own world, adorned in a way to worship her “self”. Simple yet radiant.
Since a long time I had observed something that was stored in me like a realization. I did not know I could use it in my painting. It comes from the physics problems I had solved in my 11th and 12th std. I do not remember which chapter but I remember having to balance the sides (vectors?) equally to gradually discover the direction of motion. Looks, something like this…
I felt even in life, there is a balance like that. One vertical and one horizontal. Almost like the circus people walking on the rope.
The walk on the horizontal (life) gets smoother and acquired the more one learns to balance the vertical (self). There is an alignment and balance to be maintained throughout. The more this balance is acquired, the closer the “truth” appears.
The inspiration behind
The white saree with red border, red “bindi” and “alta”. I had myself worn many times and how much that combination has become a part of my own life.
When I was growing up and developed interest in drawing, to be able to draw figures and capture colours accurately, I had collected a bunch of post cards which were photographs from the villages of Bengal. I used to imitate the photographs as exactly as possible with paint on paper. One of them I remember was a picture of children returning after fishing crossing a bamboo pole over the pond. I myself have experience of trying to cross one such pole and I remember how difficult that was. The villagers however, can comfortably walk over these. They have mastered that balance with time.
A visit to a village in my memory, is also fondly connected with bunches of water lilies being collected from the pond.
Though lilies or lotuses being offered in temples is not something I have newly seen or heard, my trip to Sri Lanka has a personal experience attached to that. When I had visited the temple of the tooth in Kandy, because it was a solo trip and the temple was not so crowded and noisy unlike many of my temple experiences, I could take time to prepare myself to create that mood. I had purchased lilies to offer and all the way to the shrine I was a pious woman concentrating to purify my thoughts and life.
All that which were scattered in bits and pieces now started to gather. And Saraswati on the canvas was ready to be formed.
Stories before completion
The central figure of Saraswati was created mostly in white. And to apply background colour, I was afraid that it will disturb the peaceful mood it now has.
A lot of time was spent in just wondering, if at all colours have to be introduced in a theme of “Truth” what colour could I apply? Will I create a background of pale colours mixed in white as I had earlier thought and received as suggestion? Why do I use such strong, bright colours in my artworks anyway?
Then I realized, it comes from my own personality. I dwell in the extremes. Either I am interested in something or I am not. Either I can feel something or I can not. Either I love something or I do not. Either I can see something or I can not. Either I spend one whole day reading till I have absorbed myself and have become one with the character or I do not carry that as a memory or “experience” if it didn’t get that intense anywhere. The same is with painting or anything else. Therefore, whatever remains as an “experience” in me are strong moments that have shown me the strong underlying colours.
Red should be red. Blue should be blue, as bright and pure as it oozes out from the tube. There is a certain joy in not destroying that identity. I think it resonates with the part in me that is a rebel and have always struggled to remain that odd “self” despite of constant pressure from the society to blend and mix well for the sake of harmony.
Having realized my own reasons, I was free from hesitations now. I decided to go ahead with what is true to me, even if that is bright, bold colours for Saraswati.
And as I was thinking about my own nature possessed by intensity and drive, I realized it has also been a driving force in my search for “Truth” or quest for Saraswati in my life. It gave me energy and enthusiasm. It kept up my spirit to discover and re-discover. What colour would that journey then be? Is it red, passionate and throbbing? I realized, it has a blue side too that neutralizes it.
Without the guide from the higher source, without moments of realizations to keep driving strongly, a search for truth can soon be lost in hopelessness and lack of belief. It also needs the calm, soothing base that the traveler finds within, without which a spiritual quest is impatient and restless and too focused on destination and not the journey. And the intermediate zone, where these 2 colours merge and become violet, the bamboo pole as a narrow bridge appears. It represents the fine balance of walking through life that through one’s own alignment one learns to master.
And the background that took me so long to decide was now ready.
As an artist especially when you are still forming your style based on your own instincts, partly realized and partly driven by a reason unknown to you yet, it is a soft ground which can easily be shaken. That is the advantage (because it gives an opportunity to ask your ownself those questions) and disadvantage (because it disturbs that delicate phase of forming). The encounter with other artists, curators and art critics can therefore have impacts at that stage dwelling on both grounds.
At some point, I decided to coil myself and not look for suggestions anywhere else but within. During that stage Sonia, the young maid of the house I stayed in Delhi became my art critic filling that gap with valuable suggestions and inputs from her own life that she perceived as “truth”.
While I painted in the balcony, she came and sat beside me in the afternoons when she was free. She used to tell me stories of her own village that she could remember while I worked on this. She could relate to the lilies, the swans, the girl, her hair…
There were many people in my art-encounter, who tried to match the artworks realistically, even though you mention to them that’s not what you are trying to achieve. “Why is the nose that way? Why are the feet and arms and leaves like that? That is wrong. You have to sketch more to get that right. Or read that book. It will show in a step by step manner how to get the proportions fine”.
It came to me as a surprise, that for once also her way of perceiving didn’t get hindered by the decorative, unrealistic, crude figure and surrounding I used as my style. She could still relate to it in her own way through her experiences of village life. Probably because she herself did not know what was “right”.
“I do not know how to read or write. But my drawing skill is good.” She told me how her parents managed to send the other children to school but she was the unlucky one left out. Living a life deprived of education, she felt hurt and insulted sometimes and had walked angrily towards the river in helplessness to be drowned.
It is interesting how this artwork on Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, truth and creativity, brought me in encounter with these qualities during that phase directly or indirectly: in the formally “educated” and the “un-educated”, varying in the capacity of seeing the truth irrelevantly. The relationship of innocence, truth and creativity. The strong desire in a person towards education and knowledge and my own realization and reminder to keep the alignment and balance towards my own search for Saraswati.