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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Diving into the world of art with Mahima Bhayana

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Talking about her recent series of art and performances, Mahima Bhayana, who is a contemporary artist, a performer, painter, educator and creative healing practitioner who pours her state of being on canvases or any other medium readily accessible, explained how the exquisite series, having a peculiar narrative, are inspired from spirituality, the Bhagwad Geeta and the Kamasutra. The series are named ‘Letters from Rukmani to Krishna’ and ‘The Kiss’.

Her strong performative strokes derive the boundaries where she plays with her lines, intricate detailing and colour that communicate her emotions and thought process. Mahima’s art is heavily influenced from traditions of miniature schools of paintings.

‘Letters from Rukmani to Krishna’ comprise intricate paintings titled ‘Aarambh’, which is the introductory piece to the series and depicts conjoined goddesses looming wrathfully against a vibrant red background with black horizontal slashes; and the namesake ‘Letter from Rukmani to Krishna’, which is a beautiful acrylic painting which uses the phrase ‘Om Bhagvate Vasudevaya Namah’ repetitively, all over Rukmani’s face, which stands for the undying love the protagonist holds for Lord Krishna. Interestingly, Bhayana has signed the painting not in her own, but in the name of Rukmani, using the Devnagari script, which forces the onlooker to reckon whether this act symbolizes her love for her artistic practice.

Other paintings in the series are ‘Bombay’s Priestess’, ‘The Fairy Godmother’, ‘The Justice’, ‘The Empress’ and ‘Expansion in Contraction’.

Diving into the world of art with Mahima Bhayana -

‘Aarambh’ from Letters from Rukmani to Krishna

Diving into the world of art with Mahima Bhayana -

‘Letter from Rukmani to Krishna’

‘The Kiss’ series of performances and paintings introduces us to a beautifully composed poem by Mahima which is definite to strike a chord with many. This piece of work redefines the concept of arousal and touches upon the taboo associated with depicting sexual arousal and intimacy via art. The poem further states how her art is highly influenced from the Kamasutra and explains how she gets aroused in a meditative way when she creates her works.

Here is an excerpt from her poem:

“Why do I put paint on my lips ? 

It’s so intimate and erotic

what you think of it? 

Symbolically it is living the experience 

It’s how we can consciously channelize arousal.

How do we look at arousal? Is every experience the same ? 

Both, the viewer and I are aroused when I’m painting

Why does the viewer shame me, the artist ? 

Is it because I’m a woman? 

Is it because I’m painting a carnal desire which is used for creation and is forbidden and shamed? 

Or is it because I’m confronting and celebrating arousal as a conscious act of expression in my art?

I am having an intercourse with my ideas of love and creation

Am I confronting and questioning the idea that creeps from loneliness?

The desire of a physical union and the battle or the swing of a pendulum between the possibility of the former, the desire of the latter in different ways.”Diving into the world of art with Mahima Bhayana -

Diving into the world of art with Mahima Bhayana -paintings from ‘The Kiss’ series

 

As a National Fellow, Bhayana pursued training and research on techniques of miniature painting. Born in 1988, she has spent four years in Jaipur extensively training, researching and educating in techniques of this ancient art form. Mahima has exhibited in various museums and galleries nationally and internationally, including The National Gallery of Modern Art, India; Lalit Kala Akademi, India; Jehangir Art Gallery Mumbai, India; Traverse Art Gallery, London, United Kingdom; IAM, A Bus Art Museum exhibition in Los Angeles, U.S.A and Ajuntamento de’Alella, Spain. Her works are in the collections of Lalit Kala Art Akademi, New Delhi, The National Gallery of Modern Art and various important embassies around the world.

Presently, she is collaborating on an initiative called the ‘Reimagining Miniatures’, which looks at both traditional and contemporary practices of miniature artists of South East Asia and creative healing through arts.

Mahima has also done an in-depth study in astrology and tarot, which is reflected in her art and her ideas to re-innovate from tradition and narrate stories. She got inspired for her new art series after she visited the Khajuraho temple, read the Kamasutra and started looking at the text as a way of life. She then gained insights into performing art meditatively and related it with her own art practice.

On the other hand, the Bhagwad Geeta taught her that we are performing actions at every moment in our lives and that everything is correlated; along with the fact that the art of loving and living life is a wholly different life perspective.

“Everything is meditative, and these things are more relaxant in contemporary times if read our ancient texts and connect to our roots. We can evolve and creative well”, stated Mahima.

On her painting ‘Letter from Rukmani to Krishna’, she added, “According to Hindu mythology, Rukmani’s parents form the royal family were pressuring her to marry Shishupal; but according to the Hindu culture and dharma, it is a woman’s right to choose her husband through var mala, denoting the right of women to be independent decision makers. It is not in Indian culture to have the ceremony of vadhu mala, that is the men choosing the women. Rukmani wrote a letter to Krishna expressing her desire for him to come to her aid and marry her. And Krishna came, which is a proof that sociologically, Rukmani was a lamp to the society. It is very relevant in today’s times too”.

Bhayana’s exposure in living in Barcelona, Jaipur, Bombay, and visiting and studying the Ajanta and Ellora temples and the Khajuraho temple have highly influenced her practice and she had a psychic flash back by meditating on her sacral chakra to read the Kamasutra and travel to Khajuraho and Bombay.

Mahima has exhibited in various museums and galleries nationally and internationally, including The National Gallery of Modern Art, India; Lalit Kala Akademi, India; Jehangir Art Gallery Mumbai, India; Traverse Art Gallery, London, United Kingdom; IAM, A Bus Art Museum exhibition in Los Angeles, U.S.A and Ajuntamento de’Alella, Spain.

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.

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