Title: Shiva & Parvati ‘Beyond A Title’
Gopal Kumavat, the known artist from Kishangarh, the great seat of medieval art in Rajasthan, reviving and re-creating medieval art forms in today’s medium and sometimes in today’s contexts as he has done here, knew what he rendered on canvas in this painting, but despite preferred to call it ‘Beyond a title’. And, his dilemma was obvious. He was able to sum up in a few inches of his canvas the whole of India, her present, past, traditions of faith, culture and art, struggle for her freedom, dignity of man anywhere and peaceful world existence and her vision of a better tomorrow for the mankind. It seems, when the creator in him put his brush off, the art-critic in him picked up his pen but did not find it that easy to prioritise his theme and give it a title as could convey its whole truth.
Figures of Lord Shiva and Parvati are the prime motifs in the painting. Parvati in a short skirt and shirt and bangles of camel bones on arms rising to shoulder height and Shiva in a loin cloth and short shirt are modelled as Rajasthani workers but instead a spade or other equipment of work they are holding, like warriors, in their hands spears crested with tridents. The trident heads hold conjointly on them a pitcher symbolising in Indian tradition earth, water and fertility. On their other hands Shiva and Parvati are upholding India’s national flag cast like her map. A pigeon mounts it, a lotus forms its background, the dharmachakra, or the wheel of faith occupies its centre and its green, the vegetation and fertility, and its orange, the fire and energy, surge with life and vigour. The flag has been couched on the apex of a corbelled arch symbolising a synthesis of Indian and Islamic traditions. Below the arch-apex and between the arms of Shiva and Parvati, which create a tower like space there is enshrined on a pedestal the image of Shakti in her deity form. Shiva and Parvati have the globe as their base and India only as background.
India’s map constitutes the background. Variedly created architecture, a mix of indigenous and extraneous art traditions, satellites and missiles in the space, enormous wild life, horticulture, agriculture, forests and other nature, technology manifest in tractors and other agricultural imputs, far reaching communication symbolised by a television set, factories, flowers strewn all over and the life conserved in every form define India’s geography.The space has been intervened by vertical geometric forms enhancing the perspective of height. And, each of such vertical dimensions has a flower crowning it.
The painting combines with the tradition of faith the cult of work. The instrument of war is crowned with trident-head, the means of conserving good and right, and upholds earth, life and fertility. Whatever in background of a faith or thought, the globe is its essential base and object. Shiva and his consort Parvati pervade the cosmos, the earth and above and stand for all wherein life prevails. Art, in whatever form, is a synthesis of various traditions and influences. Science is man’s achievement but only when it serves to his well being, makes life better and unveils the mysteries of existence. Energy’s proto-form evolves and rises to deity height only when the male and female factors unite and conjointly work. Nationhood is above all but when a synthesis of variedly evolved traditions forms it basis, righteousness and a sense of duty occupy its centre, quest for a peaceful existence is its prime and supreme goal and beauty and softer aspects of life form its background. And, the earth, man’s abode, is worth living and all heights worth attainable only when strewn with flowers all over. Kumavat, the artist, carried his canvas much beyond a title that could define it.
On the verso is a label with the following entry:
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specialises on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.