"The Romantic World of Venus" A solo art exhibition by Raghu Vyas at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre (IHC), Lodhi Road > 21st to 25th November 2013

Time : 
21st November : 7:00 pm - Opening
22nd to 25th November : 11:00 am - 7:00 pm - Exhibition on View

Entry : Free

Place : Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre (IHC), Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003
Parking : Gate No. 1, 2 & 3 (Cars), Gate No. 2 ( Bikes & Bicycles )
Venue Info : Events | About | Map | Nearest Metro Stations :
'Jor Bagh(Yellow Line)Exit Gate-1' - Walk Direction
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Area : Lodhi Road Area Events

Event Description : "The Romantic World of Venus" A solo art exhibition by Raghu Vyas.

Artist's Comments : 
About the work­­­­:
There are two lights. One in your head and one that lights the room I paint the first one. The light of imagination, the real light, lights my Venus paintings. I am expressing the The Romantic world of Venus.
The forms and the model I have used in my work are a product of my dreams that are also bathed in this light.  It is an emotional light that can convey a feeling, a mood or an idea. It is the light of nostalgia of a distant memory. An image may come to me completed; can I hold it in my head, finish the painting before it fades? I don’t like to ask to many questions, to edit or filter. If I do, I am always left with dust in my hands or a less interesting painting. I listen to the still voice within, the intuition for guidance. The thinking I leave to the viewer. Meaning, might sometimes be wanting, or reason obscure, but there is often a power, luminosity in a successful work that resists all clarification, that I would never exchange for the most carefully composed idea.

About the canvas:
Most of my paintings are painted oil on canvas, in 2009 to 2013. All my canvases are based on Renaissance techniques; I give three layers on canvas before I start the painting. All my canvases are green. In the process of making my painting, I give four layers in my forms and model.
For me, making these big paintings on such a smooth surface is a very good method to quickly put down an idea without having to think about it too much. This allows me to stay closer to the original feeling and gives the paintings an almost sketchy quality.

Dr. Seema Bawa's Note : 
Embodying the Beautiful: Venus/Padmini in Raghu Vyas’s Painterly Vision

Raghu Vyas has made a journey from the spiritual to the physical, from the forest with a cavorting peacock and the flute playing Krishna to the feminine charms of Venus/Padmini in his latest series of paintings. His work is located in the discourse of female beauty and physicality that seeks inspiration from a long visual tradition of sculpting/painting of the female form in voluptuous manner for male pleasure, starting from Greco-Roman era to Renaissance and Neo Classical European art. However, he retains the traditional Indian language of symbol, rendered in visual forms through these seemingly decorative details seen in Mathura, Gupta and Medieval sculpture and Indian miniature paintings replete as they are with various forms of female beauty.

The leitmotif in Raghu Vyas works is that of Venus, the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite, the goddess symbolizing beauty, love, femininity, sacred prostitution as well as fertility, plough lands and gardens; depicted in terms of the absolute norms of female beauty. He has an Indic equivalent in Ushas, who has a Sanskrit epithet of vanas-  a cognate referring to "loveliness," "longing" or "desire." 

As birth giver to Aeneas the primogenitor of the Roman people; Venus has a central role in Western religion, mythology and art as evinced in the numerous appellations as well as aspects such as Venus Obsequens ("Indulgent Venus"), exemplifying sexual indulgence, Venus Erycina ("Venus from Eryx), patron goddess of prostitution. Venus/ Aphrodite as an archetype of love/lust pervades Western consciousness and as the benchmark to engage with other mythological of erotic female such as  Ishtar/ Astarte Frigg and Frieva and multiple sacred erotic figures of the Indic traditions. It is this vision that has inspired the current series of works where the central female figure has been imagined as having great erotic potential through the overt sexuality of her portrayal, such as the naked female figure Bathed in Moonlight or Leda and the Swans in the Lotus Pond redolently luxuriating in the still waters of pink blooms of padma blooms.

Such overt display of female charms through the sacred persona of Venus has been a favoured subject in the Hellenistic/ Roman art. Western art has produced multiple variations, often drawing inspiration from, Praxiteles' renowned sculpture Aphrodite of Cnidus. Often, modern art history places female nudes within the conventional rubric of "Venuses," as illustrated in Venus de Milo (130 B.C.E.), Venus de' Medici, Capitoline Venus and the Venus Kallipygos, a form of the goddess popular in Syracuse. Vyas has used the Renaissance imagery in his works; a period in which Venus witnessed a re-interpretation as the goddess of sexual curative energy that justified delineations rich in amatory splendour, which perhaps appealed to both artists and their patrons. Some salutary works being Botticelli’s "The Birth of Venus" (c. 1485), Giorgione's "Sleeping Venus" (c. 1501) and “Venus of Urbino” (1538) with the goddess rising out of the sea, out of the foam or from a conch.  Raghu depicts Venus as if through an Indian prism not only by adding lotuses, padmas to the aquatic environment but also peacocks and swans. An example at hand, Awakening of Desire among the Lotuses, shows two female figures in a lotus pond, one standing on a lotus, the other hovering above the water as cherubs float all around them, some holding golden orbs in their hands. Swans also disport in the waters, reaching out towards the beautiful maidens, thus enhancing the sensuality of the scene, given the fact that swans symbolise chastity and seduction both, light and darkness, are hansas and can allude to the myth of Leda as well.

Aquatic symbolism is very strong in this series, as we see in his workVenus Reborn wherea nymph lies curled up in conch shell, ready to emerge from it, like a pearl from an oyster, pristine and delicate. Juxtaposed to this is a girl in the foreground, fully clad, sits next to a tiger, waiting eternallyfor the momentous birth of Venus from the sea.

Padmini is one of the four kinds of women described in medieval kamashastriya literature as the epitome of feminine beauty and charm, the most desirable of all women, perfect in all arts, well versed in erotic as well as intellectual arts.[ii]The artist asserts that for him ‘the Padmini’ represents the Indian vision of Venus.

This Venus/Padmini figure disports in various postures like the stambha yoshita or yakshi/shalabhanjika figures on the vedika or railing pillars of Mathura. She listens to music, and poetry; sits in lotus ponds or rises out of them; plays with swans and birds; is seen with tigers and cupids; looking at her reflection in the moonlight, one is always aware of her beauty and physicality.

 She is marked by a sometimes by a voluptuous body: full round breasts, thin waist and wide hips. Draped in a transparent clothes that reveals the figure beneath, the female form is rarely adorned with elaborate jewellery. Great attention is paid by the artist to enhancing her physical beauty. This is also done through posture, which is usually tribhanga, and through the movement of the body in performing various playful and at times provocative actions. One notices this in Mayuri Disrobed, where the swan tries to disrobe a flying peacock hairedyakshi like figure as a swan keeps pace underneath.

One of the streams that has inspired Raghu Vyas in his conceptualisation of Venus/ Padmini are the nayikas in the Rasikapriya, Ashatnayika, Ragamala and Baramasa series of Pahari paintings that represent a synthesis of classical Indian elements and the innovative trends introduced by the Mughals. These nayikas or female protagonist display an unparalleled charm, which were generally conceived as the embodiments of youth, beauty and emotive sentiment, dependant equally on the subjects and on modes of expression. As in Vyas’s works the female form is idealised as ideal slender and elegant, radiating infinite charm, sensitiveness and refinement. Their delicate and fluid movements of irresistible grace, are further enhanced by the flowing lines of their drapery.

The paintings are marked by a great deal of realistic detail that are a hallmark of  the artist’s style who uses oil on canvas to capture minute detail such as the curl of a lotus frond or the wisp of a peacock feather through his brush.

The cupids, the skies, the clouds and the quality of light in the skies have a post Raphaelite European art quality about them, while the pinks of the lotuses and the deep blues of the peacock feathers are inherently Indian and reflect his Indo-European training.

Compositionally a great deal of drama and narrative depth is introduced into the paintings through the architectural spaces in which the figures have been set. The palace like chambers, with wide window apertures that provide panoramic views of the vistas outside along with the attendant figures give a royal context to the female protagonist, who is often shown as longingly waiting for a distant lover as in Peals of Mystic Music and Abhisarika : Yearning for Amor. 

One sees a synthesis of nature and culture, natural beauty and life that celebrate beauty of life in this series of paintings by Raghu Vyas. The female body is envisaged as a vessel of the virtues, as well as sexuality, revealed to the male gaze, located within the discourse of pleasure, embodying the erotic.

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"The Romantic World of Venus" A solo art exhibition by Raghu Vyas at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre (IHC), Lodhi Road > 21st to 25th November 2013 "The Romantic World of Venus" A solo art exhibition by Raghu Vyas at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre (IHC), Lodhi Road > 21st to 25th November 2013 Reviewed by DelhiEvents on Monday, November 25, 2013 Rating: 5

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