When Gods Offer Narratives That Empower Human Frailties
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – Celebrated artist Satish Gupta has been navigating his personal journey of contemplations through a lifetime of creating meditative works. His quest takes him through painting, sculptures, poetry, calligraphy, and an intuitive seeking of a spiritual space beyond the mundane route of prescribed living.
His new works are titled Zenga, Wandering Cloud, and a large sculpture titled Brahmand.
About The Works
It was a moment of epiphany when the mesmeric quality of the intangible while seeking calm in chaos was revealed to him. That calm he believes, is a gift from Buddha. Perhaps Buddha is holding the artist’s hands on his journey through life with his creative companions: a brush, paint, some sculpting tools, and an endless curiosity in cosmic meditations.
While the galaxies swirl inside him as if in slow motion, Buddha appears at multiple moments of Satish’s creative wanderings. For Satish, Buddha in fact, resides within him; and sometimes he resides within Buddha… as experienced in Sri Lanka during the Tsunami. He was miraculously saved by a whim of constellations that had placed him at that moment in the ancient Dambulla Caves instead of the hotel he was to be in, which got washed away with many of its occupants.
As Satish says, “Once you realize this spiritual truth, you begin to comprehend the tremendous beauty in the ephemeral body of Nothingness, that is the formless nature of the Divine… beyond time and space, that is the absolute, the supreme consciousness which pervades everything.”
And from this seeding of thought, blossomed ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (‘The Formless Divine’), a sculpture in copper where the self is the cosmos and inhabiting it is a kinetic force of the world with light flowing out of its chest like a pulse of knowledge. This light, this luminosity is a silent presence in the ‘Zenscapes’ of his mind. This is also where the clouds that he was mesmerized with as a child reappears in ‘Wandering Clouds’, sculpted onto metal floating past the moon that seems to be lost in its own reverie.
Serving as an intersection between visual experience and philosophical musings, art becomes a vehicle for journeying into spaces where one rediscovers layers of inquiry, beginning to unpeel the rhetoric of manufactured living to a tranquil space of introspection. This has become a recurring motif for the artist.
Invoking the beginning of time, he sculpted the seed of ‘Brahmand’ (the spiritual universe) … a form that melts into formlessness as the play of light floats around in a mesmeric trance at the wonder of creation… creation having emerged from the golden womb or Hiranyagarbha, as suggested by a narrative in the Vedas. We may argue with this theory, but the critical evaluation is that it offers the artist a ‘Zenscape’ to create his own vision of beauty, serenity, and cosmic dialogues with his innermost self. The seed of “Brahmand” (the spiritual universe) is sculpted, and has a form that melts into formlessness as the play of light floats around in a mesmeric trance at the wonder of creation.
Immersed in mythology as he is, Satish befriends the gods that offer him narratives that empower human frailties; and homilies that steer negative thought processes towards enlightened thinking. ‘Shiva Shakti’ is one of them. Using the mellow tone and strength of copper, an image of Shiva is crafted with multiple images of the mythical Shakti within and externally… urging the artist and the viewer to ruminate on subliminal spaces.
Dressed in ornate detail, ‘Shambhu’ is a metal sculpture that reminds the world that all is not lost if you believe in yourself and your inner energies. Your innate strength and your willingness to excavate possibilities can enrich the philosophical terrains of your life; you can, and you will conquer the most difficult circumstances with the power of belief in yourself.
A skillful painter, Satish works with watercolor and mixed media creating compositions of ‘Radiance’ alluding to nature and philosophical musings. A churning of thoughts transports him into the ‘Roaring Sea and Silent Mind’ a painting where a meditating monk is seated in silence, oblivious to the thundering roar. Here, we are witness to a cacophonic world that can only be nullified with silence. Within that silence, a ‘Symphony’ flows in, of tranquil lines and soothing shades that move into a ‘Stream of Consciousness’ towards ‘Dissecting Dreams’. His lines of ‘Healing Sounds’ to the ‘Morning Raga’ comfort his sentient being as he continues his voyage and his quest for meaning.
This irrepressible quest occasionally takes the artist into a minimalist path of Zenga; a reduction of form known in Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and ink painting. Zenga appears in a series of the artist’s works… of poetry in motion, where fluid brush strokes flow into slow meditations on life, the beginning, the end and beyond.
The beyond is as Satish muses in his words “Man flies unbound by gravity”, leaving the cradle of earth to fly into infinity. Having tragically lost his father in a plane crash when he was just four and a half years old, that memory took him on an epic exploration of “flight” and its many layers of meaning. The Greek mythological Icarus is one thought process. His sculpture ‘Icarus’, clothed in copper with gold plating and a stainless-steel base with a mirror finish, reflects thus, the incertitude of flight… you may ascend through aspirations with it, or descend as did Icarus, if not mindful.
A recent immersive work in copper ‘Anantsayan’, within which lies Vishnu, who is considered the “Supreme God”, reclining on Ananta or the multi-headed serpent that shelters him. Does God need protection? Perhaps the concept of God does, shielding believers as it were, from fear of the unknown.
In the beginning, there was a vast void and many thought processes have been imprinted on us through centuries. We are tabula rasa at birth, then we bear the weight of what has been indoctrinated… what has been etched on us by society. We may choose to embrace the teachings, or we may map our own path to inner learning. Satish Gupta has mapped his own journey by peeling layers of deep thinking to reach his Zen moments.