Blue & Gold


The ‘Maharasa Lila’ – Krishna’s great circular dance (Bagahavata Puranna: Chpt 33, Book 10). Recalls the story of how Krishna appears in multiple forms to the Gopis (individual souls) on the autumn full moon, in forests of Vrindhavan. It is one of the most iconographic images in traditional painting, depicting the universal principal of unity in multiplicity – multiplicity in unity – a tenant of all religious traditions.

Having trained as a Pichhavais artist I had painted a version of this story in 1989 with my teacher and his family in Jaipur. Later, as I moved away from Pichhavais imagery, the technique remained and the oscillation between the two has been the dialogue within my painting ever since.

In this new work entitled ‘Blue & Gold’, I revisit Krishna’s circular dance although it is to the Sanskrit text rather than visual image that I return. In many ways an extension of the ‘Baptism Series’ works – which also used Gold gilding techniques often associated with traditional Tangore painting. However, this time I turned to the medieval Christian illuminated manuscripts tradition, prevalent during the 12th Century onward. The later technique, allows more freedom when translating texts as it was mainly used for the opening or carpet pages of Christian bibles.

Blue and gold are colours, which resonate in almost every culture both with a secular and sacred identity; from the blue of Krishna, the Virgin Mary, Christian Icons, to Yves Klein and beyond. All have invested a certain history and mythology.

In setting the original Sanskrit form – of the story – as a block of gold paint set within a deep Indigo blue. I wanted to evoke such traditions and see how these relate within todays world. Again I draw on the Baptism series of works, which were written in the 19th century by an unknown scribe (clerk), found in an inconspicuous church ledger, and yet recalled personal histories and collective narratives.

Each line (of the ledger) tells of a different life, of people I will never know, will never meet, and conversation I will never have…and yet… and yet…the connection is visceral. When you spend your whole life looking and finally you find something that connects you to place and people the feeling is (and remains) overwhelming.

It was something in the text itself – where ink smeared pages had turned smudged words into lives and turned lives into histories. The spelling mistakes, quill scratches and stains – the vocabulary of the real – allowed me to witness history, my own history. Until that point it (history) had eluded me, an idea without form, just remnants, shards but nothing tangible. In returning to a traditional theme, I wonder how tangible we can be, especially when confronted by a sacred ‘blue & gold’ text.

Desmond Lazaro
Jan 2014


Click Here to view/download the contact print


The blue house project – continued… 2014


The work has moved on from the original series, in response to the exhibition – Floating worlds – curated by Geeta Kapur, at the Chemould Gallery Mumbai – march 2014. In some ways it has returned to images and ideas of home – initially I had tried to turn the houses into Icons – with the use of blue and gold etc, that continues but the concern moves/ shifts to house’s in general – the title ‘Gated Community’ is a ref to those who cannot access this new way of living. Gate – can lock in – and keep out, it houses both inspiration and aspiration, have and have not. The gold text at the bottom of the image – came from my initial writing about the blue house project – however I have played with the words – finding correspondence with a specific house, shack or building motifs, they can be read as one continues ‘song’ or as individual words, worlds that exist in their own unique space.