I have been reading Heinrich Zimmer’s Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization (edited by the great Jos. Campbell) , and in my reading I have gained insight into the visual symbolism of an art and culture that I have admired but knew absolutely nothing about. I have also been introduced to creation myths (there are MANY) that have piqued my curiosity. One such tale is set in the great cosmic ether from which all life springs forth. In this space without time, this “infinite ocean of all seeds, all the potentiality of subsequent evolution…” the great god Vishnu is found, “Vishnu, the anthropomorphic embodiment of this fluid of life, is floating…in and upon the substance of his own essence.” I imagine this god very pleased with the situation that he finds himself; Zimmer goes on to describe him as”…radiant with the steady glow of his blessed energy.” In this blessed field of energy and intruder enters and disrupts the self worship of dear Vishnu; for Vishnu perceives a “sudden…luminous apparition”, the great demiurge Brahmā. The four headed ‘fashioner of the universe” seems less impressed with Vishnu, asking “Who are you? How did you originate?”. A cosmic pissing contest ensues, our two great gods thrashing it out ( in the most refined way) concerning who indeed fashioned whom. All this divine ridiculousness comes to a halt when the supreme Shiva bursts upon the scene in his “towering lingam crowned with flame”-nothing denotes authority like a gigantic phallus breaking through the ether of time and matter. Shiva does eventually set matters straight, but that is another painting.
This painting depicts the moment before the priapic intrusion.
Hubris of the Gods
watercolor and gouache on Arches paper
17 by 24 inches
The spouse-man was surprised by this painting’s color way , I don’t feel it unusual as I have been thinking of a painting composed of primary colors for some time. Months ago I clipped an article with an image of smallpox that I thought was just beautiful. This painting ,dealing with creation set in nothingness, seemed a good plus to try it out.
My desire with this painting, which is the same when I tackle Mesoamerican narrative, is to resist imitating the original visual source material . As much as I love traditional depictions of Hindu gods , it seems inauthentic for me to utilize them .
Plus, it isn’t really very interesting.
I saw Vishnu as smug, frankly hot as hell, very pleased with his own fecundity.
Brahmā I saw as more reasonable and modest. Again I wanted to resist the traditional depiction of this four-headed creator god. Instead I wanted to utilize his very creations, that of the water, the sky, the earth and lastly humankind.
I’m happy with the painting, a pleasure to once again work with speedy watercolor. I switched off because my large easel suddenly gave up the ghost. I resisted replacing it for some time, bandaging it along the way. But at last it could no longer be repaired. I broke down and purchased a wonderful new easel , all metal construction, very Teutonic in its simplicity and precision-the Klopfenstein ProEasel II ( link: HERE ).
I’m tickled, this was my first day using it; such a delight not to have to use two pairs of pliers to raise and lower the canvas ; such convenience, and a pretty blue as well.
Well must run, return to my real world, far removed from the realm of the gods. Dinner for the husband is the only grand creation myth going on this evening.
Until next time, be well,