Anecdotal

2020 onwards....                   (ongoing)

Gouache and watercolour on paper

In these intimate paintings, I invoke the tales of gods, goddesses, and nayikas (heroines) to comment on social and political realities in India. Cross Pollinating ancient mythologies, I  counter-narrate iconic motifs and attributes, or set them in juxtaposition with one another, to allow opportunities for critical reflection. Threaded throughout are revelations of sexuality, fecundity, kinship, freedom and subjugation.

These works take references from Indian and Persian miniature paintings. Each work has its own narrative, connected through a thread of my own personal experiences, encounters and observations.

Lajja Gauri / लज्जा गौरी giving birth to an ecosystem rather than a child or food plant

30 x 40 cm

2020

The goddess Lajja Gauri (लज्जा गौरी ) is associated with abundance, fertility and sexuality. She is usually invoked for vegetative fertility and good progeny. A blossoming lotus replaces her head and neck denoting blooming youth. She is sometimes shown in a birthing/squatting posture, but without outward signs of pregnancy.

The painting points towards the choice of reproduction of humans as species and what implications does it have in present times in relation to space, consumption and the coexistence of other species?

Vasakasajja / वासकसज्जा नायिका longing for union

30 x 40 cm

2021

Here sits the heroine Vasakasajja in her bed-chamber filled with lotus leaves and flora, waiting for the union with her lover and eager with the expectation of love’s pleasure. She is longing to reunite, procreate and multiply. 

Her face is consciously metamorphosed with a sparrow head, pointing towards the endangered House Sparrows especially in the region of Punjab in India. She becomes a personal totem and reflects on the ideas of kinship and collaborative living between human and non-human species.

Brahmā/ ब्रह्मा diligently reading a verse from ऋग्वेद and is stuck at Verse number - 1.164.32

य ईं चकार न सो अस्य वेद य ईं ददर्श हिरुगिन्नु तस्मात्। स मातुर्योना परिवीतो अन्तर्बहुप्रजा निर्ऋतिमा विवेश ॥

30 x 40 cm

2020

Brahmā (Sanskrit: ब्रह्मा) is the creator god of all existence and is the physical embodiment of the Universe, in Hinduism. Brahma is often represented with four heads and arms. His hands hold no weapons, rather symbols of knowledge and creation. Four heads are credited with creating the - four Vedas symbolizing knowledge, mala (rosary beads), sruva (ladle) symbolizing means to feed the sacrificial fire and a kamandalu- utensil with water- where all creation emancipates from.

Possible translations of the verse:

“A man with many children succumbs to miseries”.

“He who has made ( this state of things) does not comprehend it: he who has beheld it, has it also verily hidden (from him): he, whilst yet enveloped in his mother's womb, is subject to many births and has entered upon evil”.

“He who hath made him cloth not comprehend him: from him who saw him surely is he hidden. He, yet enveloped in his Mother's bosom, source of much life, hath sunk into destruction.”

Kalaratri/कालरात्रि the violence of Mother Nature that encompasses death and destruction.

30 x 40 cm

2021

Kalaratri is the most violent of Durga manifestations. She appears aggressive. She can curse and bless. Her intensity induces fear. She is believed to be the destroyer of demons, thus symbolizing the destruction of evil. Kalaratri means the One who is “the Death of Kaal”. Here Kaal is referred to as time and death. Kalaratri is the one who destroys avidya, ignorance and removes ru, darkness. This is symbolic of human life having a dark side that Mother nature bombards with violence to create havoc before all ‘dirt’ is removed. Darkness also represents Tamas gunas.

Virahotkanthita/विरहोत्कंठिता नायिका Yearning for Love

30 x 40 cm

2020

In the abyss and under a surveillance camera is a Virahotkanthita Nayika (“One Distressed by Separation”), a heroine who waits and yearns for her lover to return after a riot and a community clash. She dramatically reclines across a cluster of large pillows. Her head rests back and her gaze is affixed in the abyss. She holds in her right hand the mouthpiece of a hookah. Lotuses in the foreground are playing pistols and cartridges amongst themselves.

30 x 40 cm

2021

Tender lotus leaves, once a symbol of purity, enlightenment, or regeneration now conjure sullied apparatuses of power.

Yama/यम- The God of Death, and Dharamaraj/धर्मराज– The God of Justice - sitting on the throne.

 

30 x 40 cm

2020

He is thinking...

He is thinking...

He is thinking...

Wisest of the deities – Yama, also known as Yamraj or Dharamaraj. He is responsible for the dispensation of the law and punishment of sinners in his abode, yamalok. According to the Puranas, his skin color is that of storm clouds (i.e. dark grey). He is most often depicted as blue, but also sometimes as red. He is surrounded by garlands of flames; dressed in red yellow or blue garments; holding a noose and a mace or sword, and riding a water buffalo.

He sits on the throne when he is in the process of passing a judgement.

I wonder what judgement he has to pass!

It's not rape if it happened during periods

 

40 x 48 cm

2021

Draupadi/द्रौपदी aborning from fire-sacrifice/यज्ञ of vengefulness, anger and passion

 

40 x 40 cm

2021

Draupadi is the heroine of the Hindu epicMahabharata. She is seen more often as an incarnation of Adi Shakti and Goddess Kali.

She is a visceral, liminal character, an assiduous shapeshifter: a reluctant polyandrist, rebel, rape survivor, comrade, demon slaughteress, prostitute, boundary goddess, firewalker and a perfect vessel for the collective unconscious, its undercurrent sentiments and the abject. She is seen as a probe to explore society's shadow.

Draupadi as democracy.

The clothes of Draupadi

55 x 55 cm

2021