Sunday, March 24, 2013


A HIPSTER’S GUIDE TO HINDUISM Sanjay Patel, 36-year-old pop artist and Pixar veteran (he has been at Pixar since 1996), arrives at the entrance of San Francisco's Asian Art Museum, breathless. His vahana, or vehicle, is a silver mountain bike; his white helmet is festooned with multicolored stickers of bugs and goddesses. The name of the show - Deities, Demons and Dudes with 'Staches - is as quirky and upbeat as the 36-year-old artist himself. It's a lighthearted foil to the museum's exhibition, Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts.
Patel, who created the bold banners and graphics for Maharaja, was given this one-room fiefdom to showcase his own career: a varied thali (plate) of the animated arts. "I've known of Sanjay's work for a while," says Qamar Adamjee, the museum's associate curator of South Asian Art. "[Hindu] stories are parts of a living tradition, and change with each retelling," Adamjee observes.

"Sanjay tells these stories with a vibrant visual style - it's so sweet and so charming, yet very respectful. He's inspired by the past, but has reformulated it in the visual language of the present." In Patel's show, and in his illustrated books - The Little Book of Hindu Deities (2006) and Ramayana: Divine Loophole (2010) - he distills the gods and goddesses down to their essentials. Now he wheels through the room, pointing to the cartoon-like images and offering clipped descriptions:
"There's Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, with his cherished stash of sweets; Saraswati, the goddess of learning and music, strumming on a vina; the fearsome Shiva, whose cosmic dance simultaneously creates and destroys the universe." It was while Patel was at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) that representatives from Pixar saw Patel's animated student film, 'Cactus Cooler'. "Pixar loved it, and they recruited me."

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art. It hosted "Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts," where you can "explore the life and times of India's great kings by getting close to the objects they used and the art they commissioned, collected, and loved." In that great exhibition, the artist work of Sanjay Patel is outstanding. Patel didn't grow up enthralled with Hindu imagery, but the seeds were there, said Jeff Greenwald, author of the article. Six years into his Pixar career, he opened an art book and came across paintings from India. "The more I read," he recalls, "the more I was drawn into a world of imagery that had always surrounded me. Before, it was just part of my family's daily routine. Now I saw it in the realm of art."

Much can also be said about the art work that is found within Vedic culture. There are not only ornaments, jewelry, but also a wide variety of painting styles that are used in the worship and display of the forms and pastimes of the Lord. Painting and sculpture are like sciences unto themselves in the way such artists are trained. Nonetheless, any artist has full opportunity to express his or her devotion to God through this art. Thus, such art and expression becomes a means for one's personal spiritual insights, realizations and enlightenment. In this way, there are numerous forms of expression that are used in Hinduism, making it one of the most emotionally rewarding and expressive spiritual paths that you can find.

Dr Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
"Why Be A Hindu"
"The Advantages of the Vedic Path"

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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