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Bhidā (Bursting)

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Bhidā (Sanskrit for bursting) is the title of a new painting that was commissioned earlier this year. Why is this subject bursting? In it two seemingly incongruent goddesses, i.e. Saraswati, who stands for knowledge, learning and the arts; and Kali (TIME), who personifies the inevitability of Death, are in a pas de deux, a duet of dance.

Saraswati plays the musical instrument veena and twirls a lotus. Kali sports a skull and a sickle. Her crows flutter and hover. The two figures spring in action at once. For some time I grappled with this juxtaposition in preparatory sketches. I was constantly discarding the sketch drafts in order to find the one that was most resolved, the one where these two images merged seamlessly. While there was a swelling of possibilities, it also led to a false sense of freedom and confusion. This process is not new to artists, writers, musicians or dancers. To remain objective is most challenging. But the key is to keep "drawing" from one's reservoir of practice.

It is only by drawing often, drawing everything. drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.

-Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Soon I realized that the subject of this commission was reflecting the creative process itself! In it Saraswati stands for synthesis and Kali embodies sacrifice. The creative impulse gives birth to both. While Saraswati is water-like flow of inspiration, Kali demands that all creation be sacrificed on the altar of a new idea. What Saraswati creates, Kali crumbles. Then Saraswati creates again. This cycle continues. Stopping it spells the demise of the process. To dance along the axis of these two seemingly opposing forces is to create. A work of art manifests when the trumpet of Saraswati's swan and the caw of Kali's crows harmonize. Fortunately, for me, they all got along.

To walk this tight rope is to be alive through one's work. And I am utterly grateful for that.


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