Ajanta Rocks: The Silent Witnesses
April 7, 2020, Denver, Colorado:
In this quarantine times of Coronavirus pandemic, I found strange similarities with the situations with the caves of Ajanta. We are both in a lockdown state: me, within the perimeters of our home in Denver, Colorado; Ajanta, within the 30 caves near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India, since 200 BC. We both have stories to tell.
'Mahamaya' from Ajanta caves, I painted on the rough surface of a large stone-tile
Needless to say I am in love with Ajanta. It is a classic example of Indian art, architecture, culture and religious beliefs integrated into a series of magnificent cave temples. Each time when I see an art from the cave, it fascinates me giving goose bumps - these are the oldest findings of Indian art and so beautiful! Questions intrigue me: what inspired them to hold the history in such a unique and magnificent manner? How did they manage to create such massive man-made caves chiseling through vertical rock surfaces with such finest architecture? Who were the artists, carvers and architects? What inhibited the work that started in 200BC, restarted 500 years later and stalled it again to be forgotten for 1300 years until re-discovered?
The rocks are the silent witnesses of all that, yearning to tell stories. Thank God, the site is a protected monument in the care of the Archeological Survey of India and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Two of my paintings on broken red flagstones based on Ajanta motifs:
(1) Rolling floral design, and (2) Fighting bulls
My first exhibition on Ajanta theme was held in September of 2018, as a part of the Arvada Art Studio Tour. I displayed a short, 10-minute laser show to introduce Ajanta to the American audience prior to visiting the exhibition. The effort was highly appreciated. Inspired by that I have decided to hold another, art exhibition on Ajanta in a grand scale come September, preceded by a full-length, half-hour laser documentary on the history and mystery of Ajanta caves. In the last exhibition, a great many of the artworks were promptly collected by admirers. Therefore, I have decided to spend the lockdown time in creating a variety of new arts starting from water paints on papers, acrylic on tiles, slates and flagstones to laser arts live-projected on walls to printed on a variety of canvases for the forthcoming exhibition. Painting on rock/stone tiles and on the rough surfaces of flagstones are of special thrill to me, as in an unexplainable way, they bring me closest to the cave arts. Ultimately, the goal is to take the earliest form of Indian art that initiated in 200 BC and present them in the state-of-the-art form of 21st Century utilizing traditional techniques to the cutting edge technology of laser.
Vajrapani Bodhisattva - painted on a rock-tile
Apsara (Nymph) from Ajanta caves painted on rock-tiles
A collage of three laser art pieces of the ceiling floral motif of Ajanta