Pushpa Kumari2014

Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

Prakriti and Purusha are Sanskrit terms for eternal male and female elements. The terms come from a branch of Hindu philosophy associated with Tantric teachings. Purusha is male energy, and signifies spirit or consciousness. Prakriti is female, embodying the basic matter that constitutes the universe. The concepts are also found in classical literature such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, where they are often portrayed as two primordial lovers, Shiva and Shakti.

In this work, Pushpa Kumari (India b.1969) shows Prakriti and Purusha as lovers, circled by a border of repeating motifs, with bodies entwined and two profiles making a single face. In another, Prakriti is seated on the earth, her legs open to imply fertility, and branches grow from her shoulders. Her face is a single eye, and a larger eye is embraced by the male Purusha. Creation and fecundity are shown as intertwined and inseparable from the bodiless spirit. Out of these two principles, it is believed that the world was born.

Dating from at least the 14th Century, Mithila painting and drawing was traditionally practised by women in the Mithila region of Bihar in northern India and Nepal.

Mithila works are characterised by intricate line drawing, geometric patterns and elaborate symbolism — fish represent fertility, peacocks are associated with love, and serpents with divinity. For centuries it was used to mark rituals and ceremonies, particularly weddings, and created mostly on the walls of people’s homes.

Kumari retains the distinctive styles and conventions of Mithila painting while addressing new subjects such as women’s rights in India.

Exhibited in 'The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT8) | 21 Nov 2015 – 10 Apr 2016

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