Concept Note
July 2016
Commissioned art installation Project: Mukesh Mahal – Permanent Suite at Tijara Fort – Palace (19th Century; Alwar Rajasthan) India

In this suite, my art depicts the consent battle between god and evil as depicted in the mythological story of Samudra Manthan where god and demons churned the sea for treasures.

The story is symbolic in a spiritual way where in the Ocean is life and Mandara, the mountain used for churning the ocean is our consciousness. The Suras and Asuras are our negative and positive thoughts and the Kumbha is our Karmic outcome. One can also draw parallels of Suras and Asuras as negative and positive energies in human endeavor. I have also been drawn to the idea of Suras and Asuras being symbolic of Life and Death, Day and Night entwined in eternal circle of life and Vishnu balanced as neutrality between the two opposite forces.

Together, life and death make the circle of life. Nature continues to take and give back back life to earth in this eternal cycle. Suras and Asuras thus symbolize this divine and demonic nature of the universe. This infinite circle of energy rotates between life and death with Vishnu, the universal consciousness as the axis-mundi forever creating and forever destroying.

When I was invited to do this site specific art installation, I was taken up by this ageless character of the landscape of Tijara and the vastness of the fort standing stoic against the vagaries of time – almost like Vishnu, the creator himself. Aman’s brief and his heroic vision to bring the fort back to its glory encouraged me to give a form to this idea in the composition of Circle of Life created on the ceilings. I wanted the language to be global in keeping with the audience so I borrowed from Javanese art, Angkor Vat, Ancient Hindu temples and symmetrical balance of art forms on ceilings of ancient Egyptian temples.The colors are rooted in ceramics of Khurja, Rajasthan Blue Pottery and Ajulejos of Portugal.

I have attempted to keep the illustrations and execution Rajasthani fresco like. Means used are of today’s technology such as thermo-forming, CNC cutting and computer aided design for bringing precision of the composition from off site to on site.

I hope that the guests resting under these illustrations will be drawn to the attempted centrifugal dynamics of these works and may discover the center of the circle of their life. I am reminded of a conversation between King Mufasa and the young troubled Simba in the immortal Disney movie The Lion King –

Mufasa: “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As King, you need to understand that balance and respect all creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”

Simba: “But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?”

Mufasa:“Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.”

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