Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Depictions of Vishnu : "An Exclusive Expression of Indian Mythology"

Several of the paintings and drawings I recently exhibited in Kolkata, India depict statues of Lord Vishnu, one of the most significant Hindu deities.

Lord Vishnu’s role is that of protector and preserver of the universe. He is a gentle, omnipresent god who is believed to have descended to earth at least nine times in order to save the world from evil and restore balance.

Vishnu I
48 x 36 inches
acrylic on hand blocked fabric

In sacred texts, Vishnu is described as having a dark complexion like water-filled clouds. He is often depicted as a pale blue being in paintings, as are his incarnations Rama and Krishna.

Vishnu’s incarnations, known as avatars, have taken animal and human forms. A tenth incarnation is yet to come. The main focus of the statues depicted in these paintings is Vishnu, not as an avatar, but in his primary spirit form.

Four-Armed Vishnu
30” x 20” image
conte and acrylic on paper printed with metallic ink

Vishnu's stance in the image above is stiff and rigidly formal in the samapada (feet together) pose. Shri Devi and Bhu Devi stand on either side in sensual, curving contrappostoIn many instances, as seen here, Vishnu's wife the goddess Lakshmi manifests as two separate goddesses, Shri Devi denotes energy and Bhu Devi represents fertility.

Vishnu II
48 x 36 inches
acrylic on hand blocked fabric

Depictions of Vishnu adhere to a set system of iconography. Vishnu is represented as a human male with four arms symbolizing his power. The arms in front relate to his activity in the physical world while the rear arms signify Vishnu’s power in the spiritual world. As a symbol of his sovereignty, Vishnu wears a crown. The two earrings worn symbolize opposites inherent in creation.

This Vishnu is elegant in its simplicity and graceful proportions. The broad shouldered figure is softly modeled. His fleshy face has a serene expression with eyes almost closed. Along with a tall cylindrical crown, Vishnu wears armbands, bracelets, necklace and a belt but appears nearly nude as the transparent drapery covering his legs is his only garment. 

Vishnu with Attendants
26” x 20” image
conte on paper

He holds a conch in his forward left hand and a war discus in his rear left. The conch shell he holds is a symbol of the sound of creation. The discus is a weapon reminding the devotee that Vishnu protects the world from evil.

A lotus in his right front hand represents divine spiritual perfection and purity. 

Vishnu also holds a mace (gada) in his right rear hand which signifies divine power in addition to the conch (shankha), lotus (padma), and discus or chakra.

These two sculptures (in the Southeast Asian Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago) served as inspiration for the four artworks above. A simple aureole backs both statues carved in high relief. 

Another statue of Vishnu from the same collection was my model for the mixed media drawing below.

God Vishnu Riding on His Mount, Garuda
26” x 20” image
conte & acrylic on printed paper

All of the paintings and drawings above are for sale. Price available upon request. I am able to supply higher resolution images to interested buyers. If inquiring, please leave a comment with your email address. I will immediately contact you and hide your info from public view.
Or email me at Cynthia.S.Hayes (at) gmail (dot) com 

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