Thursday, December 31, 2015

Krishna and Radha - Part III

The Path of the Tantra...

As already mentioned before the bas-relief consists of 3 large panels. Each of these panels could be mounted on a wall for itself after removing simply the brass hinges.

The reverse sides of the panels have been processed neat and clean - as you can see in the image below - so that you could even place the middle panel into open space (securing it for a stand-alone of course.)

The image below shows a unique feature on the reverse side of the panel:
the foot of the sculpture has not been worked as a bas-relief but as full sculpture. For this the ornament level had to be opened up.

The following images show more details. The figure below is a so-called "Apsara", which plays a significant role in the Indian mythology as well as in other Asian countries. In Hindu as well as Buddhist mythology these female characters are half human and half devine and live as female spirits of the clouds and waters.

"In Indian religions, Apsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings. They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing. They are often wives of the Gandharvas, the court musicians of Indra. They dance to the music made by the Gandharvas, usually in the palaces of the gods, entertain and sometimes seduce gods and men. As ethereal beings who inhabit the skies, and are often depicted taking flight, or at service of a god, they may be compared to angels." (Wikipedia)

In the mythology of the Khmer (Cambodia) the apsaras had a special value as celestial dancers. On the huge temple compound of Angkor Wat you can still see and admire up to 2000 ! sculptures of these temple dancers all carved in stone.

The portrayal of the apsara as more or less erotic dancer should be reminiscent of the displays on the temple compound in Khajuraho in India. There the Tantric path is considered to be the most beautiful and challenging spiritual path to the inner self and is represented by hundreds of erotic sculptures.

"Tantra is that Asian body of beliefs and practices which, working from the principle that the universe we experience is nothing other than the concrete manifestation of the divine energy of the godhead that creates and maintains that universe, seeks to ritually appropriate and channel that energy, within the human microcosm, in creative and emancipatory ways." (Wikipedia)
Taking the path of the Tantra means to open the borders of the imprisoned self towards the world through intimate encounter with the different. Tantra teaching says that the sexuality is only a means of mind-expanding. The background is religious: Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma create with their Shaktis (the concept or personification of divine feminine creative power) the world.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

From Wood Carving to Silk Carving - Ganesha

This was one of my very special projects: Ganesha. Not only that it was a real challenge workwise but also because I love this Indian deity very much. It stands for so many positive desires: protection, wisdom, courage. With Ganesha’s help you will travel safely, overcome all obstacles and nothing evil will pass your doorstep. The challenge was the thickness of this bas-relief because I did not want to add extra silk material on top in order to form the figure, which should not end up in a completely distorted piece. But I managed to form the image in one single piece due to the sturdiness of the silk:

32" x 19"

Ganesha is one of the most important deities in the Hindu pantheon. Easily recognizable through his elephant head even for the uninformed. His attributes make him extremely sympathetic and that’s also the reason why I love this Hindu god: he is the one who removes all obstacles, he is the patron of the arts and sciences, he stands for wisdom and intellect. Normally he is the one who is addressed at the beginning of rituals because he also is the Lord of the letters and writing. His mythologic emergence can be traced back to several legends – the tenor of most goes as follows:

“According to later texts (about 12 th to 14 th century) of narrating legends and mythologies of gods following happened. Parvati, Shiva’s wife, was disturbed once by her husband who entered the house, even though she was taking her bath. The goddess felt annoyed, because she didn’t have any personal servant to guard her door. So, she rubbed her body skin and, with the perfumed unguents obtained, she molded the shape of a young boy, as glorious as daylight. Then, she granted him life and named him Ganesh, ordering that he should be on guard in front of her house. When the child intended to impede the great god to enter the house, Shiva enraged, transformed himself in his Rudra form and requested his servants to attack Ganesh. In the battle, Ganesh got his head cut off. When Parvati found out what happened to her son she became inconsolable. Unable to find the child head, Shiva grafted an elephant head on the dead body and gave him life again. Trying to repair his big mistake, he recognized Ganesh as his son.”
(after Myths and legends about Ganesh)

There are innumerable and even more bloody legends about Ganesha’s birth. But you can also find legends around this deity which serve as an educational means. This is one I specifically like:

"One day, the child Ganesha was tormenting a cat just for fun, pulling his tail and rolling him on the ground, just like children, which sometimes injure an animal but are not aware that they act badly. After his cruel play with the cat he left the cat in peace and went away. He was not aware what he had done. He went to mount Kailash to see his mother Parvati. He found her badly suffering, covered with wounds and dust. He asked her about what had happened. His mother replied that he, Ganesh, was responsible for her condition. In fact, she had been, short before, that cat tormented by Ganesha."

This story teaches us that all the living beings are of divine essence. If we injure a living creature, one of our companions, human or animal, we injure God Himself. Ganesh learned this lesson and we also must learn it during our lifetime (after Myths and legends about Ganesh).

Here are more details of the silk carving:

 Om Ganaadhipaaya Namaha OM SAI SRI SAI JAYA JAYA SAI 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Krishna and Radha - Part II

The Process

As you could see from last post's images this paravent has practically 3 layers: the figures i.e. bas-reliefs themselves, the ornament that embellishes the scene and which was inspired by the huge portals of Indian temples and a second layer of ornaments that adds depth to the whole work. The latter was attached behind the first 2 layers. You can see this in the following images:

The figures and the first ornamental layer has been carved from massive pine wood. The depth for the figures was achieved through gluing several planks on top of one another. This method also prevents the wood from the danger of splitting after some time due to temperature and humidity changes. Carving from whole massive blocks is always a problem in this respect.
All ornaments have been cut first with a fret saw and then been carved. You can see this below.

In above image you can see the 4rth piece of the triptych - the foot - which has been added to stabilize the middle panel. It can be removed for transporting purposes:

The foot is mounted to the main panel with glued dowels on the upper side and screws with brass nuts on the reverse side.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Krishna and Radha - Part I

A threepart bas-relief as unusual room devider with figures from the Indian mythology

Next week is holiday season and possibly you can get some minutes free to read this, about my largest work I have carved so far and - for me - one of my most beautiful works: a huge triptych, again hand carved from  massive pine wood. It is called Krishna and Radha, one of the most reknown couple from the Hindu pantheon.
As already mentioned it is a triptych, can be separated completely into 4 pieces and is connected by brass hinges.

 "Krishna and Radha",
 Indian style triptych,
 hand carved, massive pine wood, 
 85" x 93" x 7", 65 kg

How I came to this motif? Well - I have always loved and still do fairy tales and legends from the world. I love this TV series "Grimm" which of course has nothing to do with the Grimm's Märchen my mother always read me from when I was a little child and I love all sorts of tales about vampires and witches but only if it's written in good style and thrill. Such as from Anne Rice. I just love her novels. No less tantalizing are the tales of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the two biggest epics of Indian literature with all their gods and goddesses and their only too human weaknesses. Their characters and personalities are completely different from those of German legends where you always have the feeling to see that finger warning you that you will be punished for wrong doing. Always.
The figures of the Indian mythology represent for me exuberant joy of life per se. There are numerous figures in  European art also which represent this kind of feeling but somehow I feel more attracted to the exotic of the unfamiliar.

After a lot of research to find the right motif I finally made the drawings, 1:1 for the copy on the wood. After I realized how big this paravent was going to be I had to decide what kind of wood I would use. For practical reasons I decided to use pine wood again with an even grain. This would make the carving work easier if you don't have to adapt from rather soft parts to hard parts and vice versa all the time. Normally you need to remove all the knotholes and replace them with pieces of wood - and pine wood can have a lot of them - but I found enough boards without too many of them.

 I wanted to create with this work not only a "common" paravent but something very special, a unique piece of art that you would not find anywhere else. Until this day I had already created two other hand carved paravents but these had been varnished in dark colours in classical manner. With this work I wanted to create something entirely different.

An interior designer and artist from the south of France gave me the idea. Dark wood work is only then really beautiful and not overwhelming if you combine it with really white walls as it is typical for the southern regions of Europe. In the North you need something more cheerful. No wonder interior designers from Northern Europe often use untreated pine wood for furniture designs. Therefore I decided to treat the finished work with a stain that made the wood look like old ivory. More about this later....


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Statement

My travels through the world have opened my eyes to the existence of beauty and ugliness close side by side. And while I feel deep admiration for countless unknown artists of the past I also look into the living faces which sometimes show the deep lines of hunger and pain.
I, the westerner, able to travel and enjoy the images nature and ancient cultures are giving me, ask myself whether it is right to take pictures of these faces, intruding into their lives, only somehow taking but not really giving something back. The thought is disturbing.

And then I look into those faces again and I also see smiles, no judging. I see innocent minds, curiosity, friendliness towards the stranger and again I receive something. I begin to understand. It is important to see and accept and not to ask for the reasons all the time. At the same time I am well aware, that in some regions of this planet you are not well received as a stranger and that sometimes you won't be accepted, even if you work hard to gain trust. Sad thing is that this is currently eating through many countries for "religious" reasons. But I decide to keep those friendly faces in mind and the best they have to give whenever I feel at odds with my own life.

The sensuous figures in my wood carving, in my sculptures and reliefs as well as in all other work represent for me the deepest levels of emotions that we as humans experience. It is not so much the figures themselves, but the emotions that are captured in this work.

Paramount for me is the longevity of all my work. Therefore each piece has been carefully hand carved from solid pine. It is extremely important for me to use renewable sources instead of illegal tropical wood. The special working process on these wood carvings also prevents later splitting due to changes in humidity and temperature.

The recent wood carvings are finished in a special "ivorization process" to give them the appearance of precious ivory carvings but without the stench of animal abuse. All other pieces are stained, the one or the other additionally painted and finally polished with bees wax which gives all pieces a velvety shimmer and the wood feels incredibly smooth....


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Restart with a Wood Carving - Putri Dedes

During the last days I decided to start all over again. My original website is hopelessly outdated and full of bugs and I don't want to spend so much time to revamp the whole thing.
Thanks to blogger there are lots of nice templates which only need to be changed to your personal likes and requirements without all the HTML stuff. Of course I don't regret ever having learned about this stuff but all these hours on the computer - wew - never again.

I want to keep this blog/website nice and clean and simple, just a tool to show my work for those who are interested in it and what I love to spend my life time with. I have no idea whether I will be able to keep up this plan....

I'll start with my favourite wood sculpture which is also some sort of lucky symbol because I love to look at her mysterious smiling face, knowing that she harbours lots of my energy and happy hours.
May I introduce Putri Dedes, the Goddess of Transcendental Wisdom:

"Putri Dedes"
Goddess of Transcendental Wisdom
Size 23" x 28" x 19"
handcarved from pine wood

Here are some different views and details from the sculpture:

As you can see the throne on which the sculpture is residing has been carved separately:


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