Search for the divine

Updated: Nov 13 2005, 05:30am hrs
Even among the creative, it is not often that one comes across individuals who are proficient in more than one art form. But Satish Gupta is among the rare few who enjoys the distinction of excelling in a number of art forms. Whether it is sculpture, painting, calligraphy or poetry - his body of works in just any of these fields is quite incomparable. His new exhibition, a humongous one with about 40 paintings and sculptures, is on at Delhis Visual Arts Gallery from November 16 to 23. Titled The Cosmic Matrix, the exhibition also has contributions in prose by Lokesh Chandra, Aasim Akhtar, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Alka Pande.

The paintings are inspired by my experiences in different place of worship around the world, says the 1947-born artist. Among the inspirations have been the Brahman at Angkor Vat, Shivlingams in temples of Varanasi, the stone temple at Mahabalipuram, the calligraphic inscriptions at the Aya Sophia mosque in Istanbul, the ancient church at Toledo, the balance between the rigid and fluid at the Zen garden at Ryonji or even the fluttering prayer flags under the Buddhas eyes in Ladakh.

He expresses his anguish about the way religion has been misused in recent times, saying this exhibition is about the interface between different religions, and a journey to reach the essence lying beyond the ritualistic aspects that dominate today. He is more interested in the fabric of the universe, and mans relationship with it. He has faith in the purity and these paintings reflect his convictions. All of them of fairly large size, each is dominated by a central figure, but equally noteworthy is that the backdrop of each painting has continuously repeated figures which lend the paintings both a luminosity and a mystique, inspiring the viewer to look beyond the form.

I conceived of the show about five to six years ago, he reveals, adding but most of the work on display has been done in the last two years. I worked almost in frenzy. I wanted to create something that really stirs the soul.

When asked why there has been such a long gap since his last exhibition, he says, I am a loner in that sense. When I show my work, then I share with people, there is greater interaction. Gupta has been exhibiting for well over three decades now and his landmark works include the 260-ft long mural at Delhis international airport and the five metal figures - each measuring from 10 to 33 ft and inspired by the primal elements - at the Jindal Centre in Delhi. He has also exhibited across the world.