Tortoise Nautilus Venus and Us
Paintings and Drawings at Sara Arakkal gallery, Bangalore – 2012
By Anuradha Nalapat
Once upon a time, during a journey into nothing, I decided to interrupt the white stillness of the paper armed with a charcoal pencil. I kept halting, hesitating and judging the unfolding process because of an inbuilt resistance towards the patterns that stubbornly arose on paper. Concentric circles whirled along the paper. They looked like conch shells, like galaxies, like whirlpools. I assumed the resistance was a studied response to considering design as something inferior, ‘just a design’ as they say it. But they wouldn’t disappear, as though they were a part of me. I let it be. Exploring the patterns that emerged, I saw that there was more to these patterns than met the eye; that they were not just mindless designs. I traced them back to a grandmother who drew a ‘Kolam’ in front of my house with white rice powder; to a Sri chakra symbol that finally found its decorative space on the bathroom wall! To a friend in school who taught me to string a rubber band between my fingers, to create the perfect shape of the six headed Star of David; and the game we played as children with squares drawn in the mud called ‘kallu kali.’
These patterns I stumbled upon were inbuilt ancient structures of the human mind within which we dwell. This series of drawings and paintings is a delightful journey into the magical realm of patterns.
Similarities in Sacred patterns and symbols used in Religion-
Something tells me, not necessarily reason, that most religious symbols including the numerous gods and goddesses in the Hindu religion, and the metaphors and paradoxes that appear in literature and poetry, all have a clear scientific principle behind them, and therefore if this little creature living inside a conch shell could be sacred, why not we, so called evolved human beings?
Every religion has used patterns in circles and squares in order to convey a larger truth. The Srichakra The Celtic cross or the Triquetra symbolizing trinity. The Auroboros associated with Religion, Mythology, Gnosticism, Hermeticism and Alchemy.
Buddhist Mandalas , Swastika symbol The endless knot Trishula Dharma chakra The Kabbalistic tree of life .These are all just a few symbols and patterns mankind has used to convey a larger truth.
The golden ratio-
Pondering over the sacred conch shell, I remembered the golden ratio or the golden triangle that artists and architects of ancient times used in their creations. A space that is aesthetically beautiful and pleasing to the human eye is what it is described as. I would call it a space that erases all unwanted thought and one where we feel at home. The Parthenon, most Pyramids, Medieval churches and cathedrals have all followed this golden ratio, and Pythagoras, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, are all geniuses who used the phi ratio (.618, 1.618…) in their art .
Delving into patterns, one realizes that they are part of the natural process of growth.The Fibonacci numbers-1,2,3,5,8,13… and the golden ratio-.618,1.618 or 2.618 are all products of growth. You see the golden ratio bursting in the pattern of sunflower seeds, in the five petaled lilies, the arrangement of leaves, in the pine cone, the conch shell, in almost all plant life, and even in the arrangement of human teeth, bones and the branches of the human lung! What is amazing is that it is not just the tiny crab or snail that is carrying the golden ratio within them, but also across the skies are planets tracing a specific pattern as they waltz around their suns and moons. Watching the Earth-Venus dance for eight years creates this beautiful five-petal flower with the Sun at the center!
(Astronomy of the vedic altars- (Subhash Kak)
Leave the skies and let’s enter the human being. His finger prints take the spiral route. Take the master glands (the endocrine system) in our body which functions as a feed back mechanism. If the thyroid is not functioning properly, the hypothalamus releases hormones triggering the Pituitary to release its hormones, which in turn triggers the Thyroid to release its hormones. If the blood sugar levels are low, the pancreas release hormones that urge the liver to convert glycogen into glucose, and if more they release insulin to break down the sugar and so on and so forth. We are also embedded with a left and a right brain and the process of living itself is an interaction or is dependent on a ‘relationship’ between these two hemispheres. Balancing and understanding these hemispheres seems to be the journey before us. Balancing the yin and the yang, the good and bad, reason and emotion, as the night rolls into day is the cycle we live in. These are the ancient structures of the human mind inbuilt into us.
Psychology, Psychiatry, epistemology, theology, ethics, ecology, art, religion, yoga, are all in their own way trying to deal with the human minds’ patterns. For some reason we like to see the differences and not the similarities in human thoughts and emotions- Probably because Science is focused on differentiating rather than seeking similarities. We pay attention to the bad than the good. We’re like that only!
What is heartening in a world more dual, isolated and bipolar is the understanding that we creatures are connected by a common pattern deep within us; a pattern that religions try to unfurl with the help of symbols. Poetry does it with the help of metaphors; Zen and Tao do it with the help of paradoxes.