One of the foremost pleasures of running Collectivitea is the chance to meet one creative individual after another. It’s fascinating to hear their story and I feel privileged to, in turn, share it with all of you. This latest post is about a painting called The Song of Kalindi. Kalindi is a river in northern India; its more popularly known as the Yamuna. The Song Of Kalindi is a painting by Seattle artist Deepti Agrawal Mittal, that is based on a poem by Raji Ram. The poem goes like this…
Deepti visually interpreted the poem as a painting on a 16×40″ canvas and she takes you on a picture-walk of different sections of the artwork.
“The Song of Kalindi” is an intricate and multi-layered rendition of a beautiful poem by a dear friend, Raji Ram. The poem is about Kalindi’s (aka Yamuna) yearning for her God to return to Vraj – translated into a painting. It’s been over a month since the unveiling of the completed work and as I understand now, the painting is visually appealing but not easily comprehensible. Hence, I present a quad-sectional ‘Picture Walk’ to decrypt the thoughts that helped create this poetry on canvas.
In the painting, Kalindi is personified as a woman looking for her long lost love. From her anchal, flows the bright blue river, vibrant with floral life. The text of the poem has been subtly put down in the folds of the river, to symbolize the extent of Kalindi’s pining that spreads across the universe unchecked. The vibrant green background is indicative of the vivid moors and landscapes that she flows through. Green swirls show the dreams and anxiety that Kalindi carries along in her journey to find Krishna.
The orange and green tributaries bubble with musical notes, as they flow across the dimensions of time and place, relentlessly looking for their Lord.
The second section of the canvas focuses on the poem’s second stanza: Gopikas dancing under the moonlight. The blue/purple background depicts the night sequence, flanked by the dotilism mandala on top, alluding to the moon in full bloom. The chandani of the moon splashes itself into a silver carpet for the gopis to dance on. The gopis are shown in three different classical and folk dance styles – Kathak, Raas/dandiya, Bharatnatyam.
The next section showcases Meerabai and Janabai, two pious devotees of Krishna from modern times. In the yellow-orange segment, the checks on the left most corner represent the flooring on which these devotees seated themselves while singing. This is different from the silver light carpet on which the gopis danced in the previous section, because of the opposite patterning.
The checked floor appears only in the background because the songs are said to have often transported the devotees into a floating trance, uplifting the spirit towards heaven. The bright shades of orange and yellow along with flowers in full bloom, present this ecstatic devotional state.
The final section showcases the ultimate God in all his glory. Neel-Madhav (Krishna) in peetambar (yellow clothes), a vibrant cape on his back with moar-pankh (peacock-feather) in his mukut (crown), is surrounded by his favorite cowherd. Little birds perch on his flute, engrossed in the enchanting music he plays. The musical notes coming out of his flute, are depicted as bubbles, similar to the ones, that run through the tributaries. This poetic depiction alludes to the fact that the divine music is omnipresent and is carried through the waters of Yamuna across the land.” – Deepti Agrawal Mittal
What an enchanting painting! One that celebrates creativity- the poet’s written words, the visual artist, music and dance. It celebrates the myriad ways we express ourselves, and the beauty of the process. Aside from the beautiful story on which the painting is based, I also feel like the river and the surrounding scenes captures the feeling of being immersed, lost and in absolute thrall of creativity. Thank you, Raji and Deepti, for sharing your collaborative process! You can visit Deepti’s page here. – Priya