Monday, March 17, 2014


Elephant in Dhauli Hills,Orissa.

I am returning to this page after 5+ months - rather unusual as evident from my 'history' of  writing blogs. The concept of being frozen in the flowing stream of time - interpreted visually and in words - was haunting me for  last few days. Here is the 'collection' of what  I have gathered.

The  advantage of philosophy over other expressed mediums is that it can be expansive , others can argue and project their view point  and the 'concept' grows on the initial platform. A visual has no such possibility - once sculpted and painted, the subject belongs to the viewer.  Before I go the visuals, I shall quote  two paragraphs from Alan Lightman's ' Einstein's Dreams' :  a book best described by Los Angeles Times' --- 'Lightman is an artist who paints with the notion of Time'.In one of the chapters he has written :

' There is a place where time stands still.Raindrops hang motionless in air.Pendulums of clocks float mid-swing Dogs raise their muzzles in silent howls....As a traveler approaches this place from any direction, he moves more and more slowly. His heartbeats grow slower further apart, his breathing slackens, his temperature drops, his thoughts diminish, untill he reaches dead center and stops.For this is the center  and stops.For this is the center of time.From this place , time travels outward in concentric circles...' 

 Written in 1992.
 In this 'story', he has used  a dozen imageries . The concept of  slowing down to stillness at the centre of this world makes deep impact on the Reader's mind, somewhat like what we find in 'Time Transfixed' painting by the surrealist painter Rene Magritte. It is said about him that his paintings challenge viewer's 'preconditioned perceptions of reality'.

'Time Transfixed'

  This painting (1938) was initially purchased by Edward James  - a patron of surrealist art. Rene wanted this painting to be hanged  at the starting point of the staircase so that visitors climb up to the ballroom upstairs with  'stab' from the locomotive.The title of the painting , translated in English would have been 'Ongoing Time Stabbed by a Dagger'. Reane was unhappy with the commonly accepted title       'Time Transfixed ' as well as the fact that the painting was hung above James' fireplace. 

 I find an irony here :  the painter wanted viewers to be 'stabbed' by the emerging locomotive while  the viewers  took  the theme as transfixed time !

 In this context, the emerging elephant  at Dhauli Hills, Orissa ( photo at the top of this blog) - a very famous piece of Buddhist art - came to my mind. This elephant symbolises Buddha .  The sculptor never completed  his work. It was  done during  regime of emperor Ashoka ( 271 - 232 BC) .  This was a scene where the 'elephant' was NOT frozen in time - he was emerging. But, the visual effect can be just the opposite , specially when viewed in context with our current experience. I could not find any reference  explaining why the sculpture was left incomplete  - but, tourists to nearby Udaygiri(Bhubaneshwar) will notice two more elephants, sculpted out of movable rocks, are placed adjacent to each other in front of Ganeshagumpha, one of the caves - very much 'finished' in shape. We need not compare the religious  contexts - Udaygiri  did have large occupation of Jain monks.

Pair of elephants
Udaygiri (Bhubaneshwar)

No comments: