Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Indian artists have been concerned with the theme of suffering. It is in this connection that Christian symbols have offered the possibility of understanding suffering in a spiritual sense. Generally in Indian art suffering has not been depicted. The Divine is associated with Beauty understood as that which is joyful and attractive. The Shastras or canons concerned with sacred art, explicitly lay down that distortion, and corruption should not be represented in art.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010


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.


When working on the Kristha Katha series in Mangalore, I had in mind the narrative paintings that I saw in the Madhva monasteries of Udipi, which depicted the stories about Bala Krishna, from the Bhagwad Purana. There seems to be a kind of consecutive logic in the way these stories interlink, which remind one of a kind of journey, or pilgrimage.


There is a freshness and lyrical quality in the Nativity stories, which have always touched the heart. The Annunciation, Visitation, and birth of Jesus have a kind of innocence.


The infancy narratives which include a number of scenes from the childhood of Jesus, and also the life and ministry of John the Baptist, have been included in the Joyful Mysteries.