Kenji’s Art Sundays

November 19, 2006

Every Sunday, Beats Entropy will showcase a painting of mine and I will describe the ideas, processes and technique I used to realize it.

Please feel free to comment; anything is welcome including criticisms.

Today’s Piece:

Title: The Maya of Brahman
Medium: Acrylic and Latex on Fabric
Size: Approx. 60″ x 60″

In Hinduism, Brahman represents the infinite universe, reality and the oneness of everything. Though often anthropomorphized, Brahman is more of a concept or principle than a deity. Seeking enlightenment is essentially the effort to ‘see’ Brahman fully, though the human mind and senses are unable to literally ‘see’ the truth of Brahman; it’s more about attempting to ‘experience’ nirvana through meditation or a few other means.

In this painting, Brahman is represented in the background by a Buddha (I took a bit of cross-religious freedom here). The Buddha’s features are washed out as though he is blending into the universe, and the scene is blazingly bright and clear- ostensibly “illuminated”.

Another Hindu concept is the Maya, which represents the illusionary quality of Brahman. It is the worldly universe, the reality of things, concepts and the separations between objects. It is everything our minds and senses home in on at every moment. The path to enlightenment is obscured by the “veil” of Maya. This “veil” was drawn over the scene of the Buddha as an intricate curtain of dark forms, consisting of both sensual and sinister things that exist in our world.

I positioned many of the forms meaningfully in relation to one another, and also in relation to the background. A few notables ones are:
-A nuclear bomb is directly overlayed on top of the sun.
-The woman sinking into the darkness is reaching up towards the Buddha’s face.
-The bullets (right of the centre) mirror the form of the cigarettes (middle right).
-The entire Maya is divided into wavy columns alternating between people and a different category of “things”. Starting from the left: a train, a face, candy & pop, a man, a pencil and paintbrush, a woman and a falling man, communication wires, a woman and a face, musical instruments, three people, weapons, a face, buildings, five faces, drugs.

This is one of my larger pieces at about 5 feet by 5 feet. I painted the Buddha using latex paint, and it sat like that for almost two months before I knew what I wanted to do with the image. When I realized what I wanted to do, I divided the painting into wavy columns and sketched out in pencil the basic figures and objects. Then I ate some mushrooms, grabbed a paint marker and drew in everything while elaborating on many of the figures on the fly. Once everything was inked in, I carefully started to fill in small, sinuous sections with black to slowly give the Maya more substance.

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Copyright 2006 Kenji Toyooka


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