This series is based on photographs taken by me during my recent trips to India. A vibrant visual style makes all the pieces stand out. (Oil on Canvas 12"x36" and 24"x48")
It is estimated that there are around 10 million street vendors in India. Women street vendors dressed up in colorful Sarees (traditional Indian clothing) bring vegetables and other affordable goods from villages and sell them in the cities. They provide consumers with convenient and accessible retail options.
Street vending as an occupation has existed for hundreds of years and is considered a foundation of many cities' historical and cultural heritage.
Based on an animation project I did in 2003 as part of my MFA thesis, these paintings depict ten incarnations of Hindu God Vishnu. Visual style is based on Mithila/Madhubani Paintings from India. (Oil on Canvas 12"x36")
In the Hindu mythology, there are ten documented incarnations (Avatars) of Vishnu. These ten incarnations are different forms of the same God, each being associated with a different story.
THE 10 AVATARS OF VISHNU
In his first incarnationVishnu appeared as a fish,Matsya, to convince a human being,Manu (the first born), to collect all kinds of seeds and pairs of all birds and animals and to get on a boat along with them. After this, a flood drowned the earth and destroyed everything and the good heartedManu started a new human race. This incarnation symbolizes the forming of protoplasm and invertebrates.
In his second incarnation asKurma, the turtle,Vishnu helped the Gods and demons to churn the nectar out from the ocean. This nectar helped the Gods renew their youthfulness and avoid death. This incarnation symbolizes the amphibian form.
In his third incarnation asVaraha, the boar,Vishnu used his tusks to raise the earth, which had sunk in the sea. Thisincarnation symbolizes the existence of mammals.
In his fourth incarnationVishnu appeared asNarsimha, which was a strange being, half-man and half-animal. A demon,Hiranyakashipu, had obtained the boon of immunity through asceticism, from the attacks of men, beasts and Gods. He had the assurance from Lord Brahma that he could not be killed either during day or during night, either inside or outside his house.Hiranyakashipu grew very powerful and forbade the worship of all Gods and forced people to worship him instead.Vishnu took the form of half-man, half-lion (neither man nor beast) and tore the demon into pieces in the evening (neither in the day nor in the night), by emerging from a pillar in Hiranyakashipu’s palace and killing him in the doorway (neither inside nor outside). This incarnation shows the development of hands and fingers on animals and the evolution of the sub-human or ape form.
In his fifth incarnation he was a dwarf,Vamana. As a little person he asked the demon, who ruled the three worlds, to give him land three times his foot. Once accepted, the dwarf suddenly grew to an enormous size and covered all the earth and the heavens by his paces and the demon was left with only the nether regions. This incarnation reflects the incomplete development of man.
In his sixth incarnation,Vishnu asParsuram , wasa non-violent priest who took an axe to kill warrior caste (kshatriya), which had become arrogant and were suppressing the priests in the world. This incarnation symbolizes the Stone Age. The axe symbolizes the start of the use of metal by the mankind.
In his seventh incarnation,Vishnu appeared asRama, the main character in theRamayana, who killed the demonRavan. In this biggest epic of Indian mythology. a myriad of topics are covered, including war, love, brotherhood, ideal man, son, and so on. It is essentially the story of an ideal king, son, father, and man,Rama. This incarnation shows the ability of the mankind to live in cities and to have an administration.
In his eighth incarnation,Vishnu wasKrishna, the central character in the epicMahabharata. He helped the righteousPandavas to defeat the villainsKauravas.Krishna is also the philosopher of the Bhagwad Gita, one of the holiest Hindu texts. This incarnation reflects the development of the sciences.
The ninth incarnation ofVishnu is theBuddha, the establisher of Buddhism. The purpose of this incarnation was to preach non- violence and to advocate against animal sacrificing in religious ceremonies. This incarnation reflects the intellectual and scientific development of the man.
The tenth incarnation ofVishnu,Kalki, is supposed to arrive when the world will be at a brink of complete chaos. He will rise from the sea on a white horse and destroy all evil. This incarnationwill save mankind.
MFA (Parsons School of Design, New York City)
BA (JNU, New Delhi, India)
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