Monday, January 18, 2010
KRISTHA KATHA AND ROSARY SERIES
The narrative series of images which we find in Indian temdple art, either in the form of bands around the Pradakshana Path, or circumambulatory path that pilgrims take when visiting a holy place, or in the more interior cloisters or courtyards of monastic buildings, conceive of the story as a kind of quest. The story invites us to take a journey, which is itself the pilgrim path.
In 1983 I worked on a long series of narrative images for the Holy Cross Fathers in Katpadi, near to Udipi on the Mangalore, Karnataka coast. Before starting this series, which were painted on rough khadi cloth, pasted on plyboard and mounted on the wall, I had looked at the stories about Krishna in the Udipi monastries that are inspired by the philosophy of Madhva Acharya. These images painted in a rather rough, spontaneous style, over a period of a few weeks, and covering some seventy feet of wall space in a narrow frieze about three feet high, were an attempt to see the whole life of Christ as a journey. This linked up with an understanding of the Rosary, as a garland (mala) of images, which could be divided into three strands of Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries. In a way these images which I developed later into a set of canvases that are now in Germany, commissioned by the Missions Prokure of the Jesuits in Nuerenberg, constituted a kind of visual lectio divina. They were a meditation on the Jesus Way which could perhaps be developed into a meditative practice of the imagination exploring the many metaphors that arise out of the life of Jesus the story teller, who was himself the Parable of God's intervention in human history.