Raghu Vyas' 'Krishna' Paintings


New Delhi: Ragini Arts hosts the preview of 'KRISHNA - Romantic Fantasy In Peacock Forest'; a solo exhibition of twenty-one figurative paintings by Delhi-based artist Raghu Vyas on January 17, 2009 at The Oberoi, New Delhi. The exhibition will then move to Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre from January 28, 2009 to February 01, 2009.

Art Exhibition previously on in India.
From Wednesday 28 January 2009 to Sunday 01 February 2009
Launch Saturday 17 January 2009, 7 p.m.

Angels in a Peacock Forest image

Published by anonymous on Wednesday 14 January 2009.
Contact the publisher.

With Indian cinema all set to celebrate Raja Ravi Varma’s realistic canvases with Ketan Mehta’s soon-to-be released Rang Rasiya, it’s perhaps time for the artworld to once again applaud the everlasting beauty of figurative art.

Says Nidhi Jain, Director, Ragini Arts: “The various moods and postures of Krishna reflect the contours of Raghu Vyas’s intense relationship with his god. In a creative process filtered through bhakti, he has constructed and deconstructed Krishna in this series.”

Says Raghu Vyas, “There are two lights – one in your head (imagination) and one that lights the room, my Krishna paintings are lit by the light of imagination, the real light. It is an emotional light that can convey a feeling, a mood or an idea, the light of nostalgia of a distant memory, the light of the magical garden of childhood. The forms and models used in my work are a product of my dreams. Working for the last two years towards this exhibition, I have tried to express the Sakhi Bhav of Krishna. The predominance of the peacock and peacock feathers reflects this, as traditionally in Krishna worship the peacock epitomizes the sakhi bhava.”

Born in Basholi, a small town in Jammu, one can trace three significant influences in Raghu Vyas’s works. The first is linked to his roots in Basholi, famous for its Pahari miniature paintings. The detailed nuances of colours and form seen in his work reflect this influence. The second is at a spiritual level where he surrenders to Krishna in his paintings. Third, he is deeply inspired by the pictorial arrangements and techniques of renaissance art.

A devotee of Krishna, Raghu Vyas has depicted his personal, religious and spiritual encounter with Krishna. With carefully managed light and shade effects, his luminous paintings portray the youthful and beautiful Krishna, the creator of illusion and ‘raas’ in the world. Raghu Vyas’ palette is dominated by traditional Indian colours used to portray green peacock feathers, yellow robes, golden flute, blue God and pink lotuses.

The Divine Saviour shows Krishna not only as the popular, pastoral god of love and peace but also a universal saviour who not only saves Draupadi’s honour, but humanity as a whole. Echoing a similar sentiment is the painting Angels in a Peacock Forest where people seated with a blue Vishnu are seen flying through a sea of peacock feathers. Here one sees the fruit of Raghu Vyas’s encounter with European Christian art in the depiction of trumpet blowing angels flying at various levels. In another work titled Krishna in the Lotus pond, Raghu Vyas has invoked diverse imagery such as placing a flute playing Krishna flanked by a peacock and a woman, wearing the same lotus pink and peacock feathers on the bank of a lake, full of pink lotus flowers. Popular association of Vishnu with Lakshmi with pink lotuses as the goddess of fertility and prosperity is combined with the love pangs of separated lovers that epitomize Krishna imagery in shringara rasa.

Erotic love is predominant in works like The Virahini Nayika andThe Lover’s Music which shows the gopi or Radha seated on a couch in the foreground with Krishna floating in a lotus pond with a pair of hamsa, the traditional symbol of erotic love. Through a depiction of a singing Meera entranced by her own imagined figure of a flute playing Krishna, Raghu Vyas has painted his devotion with an emphasis on devotee imagery.

Despite the overwhelming use of traditional imagery, there is a strong presence of contemporary motifs as well. In A Shrine in a Cupboard I, Raghu Vyas illustrates the varied ritual practices of everyday life through a bust of Krishna, his symbol, a metal peacock, a conch, an open book and other accruements of household worship lying on two shelves of a cupboard. While in another similar work titled, A Shrine in a Cupboard II, he depicts the entire domestic shrine alongside various other objects of popular devotion such as metal plaques and calendar images. From this, he moves onto the next stage of religious experience, where the devotee visualizes the presence of the Divine Flautist within his little shrine. In The Shrine Within, Krishna occupies the mundane space within the household, sanctifying and interacting with the devotee at a more intimate level. The transition from the external symbols of ritual to the inner experiential world of the bhakt (devotee) is very interesting. Similarly, in Who Lives Here?, the viewer can see Krishna seated on a chair beside a covered table, with a framed image in the popular mould hanging above him, through an open door. The suggestion that the seated figure is real presence, not just an icon is reinforced through this kind of juxtaposition of Krishna’s anthropomorphic presence with the printed/painted image.

Similarly, other works too depict the grandeur and love that flows from Krishna and as Raghu Vyas hopes will “put back figurative, realistic art back on the art map”!