Artist: Visithra Manikam
Title: Padma Lokshana – She sees all
Size: 1.1m x 76cm
Lotus symbolism is sacred in many religions and culture including in Hinduism. In Hinduism, the Lotus symbolises knowledge, abundance, wealth, sexuality and spirituality. Eyes are often referred to as padma lokshana – or the lotus shaped eyes.
While I had envisioned this painting, only afterwards did I realise that I had painted a combination of two Hindu goddess that I had never seen before.
Lajja Gauri or Adya Shakti is an ancient form of the goddess from the rig veda that represents fertility and sexuality and is portrayed with a lotus head, nude and promptly displaying the yoni as she symbolises the life giving mother.
The second goddess is Satakshi devi who is described in the Devi Mahatmayam where the goddess created numerous eyes on her body so that the earth which was suffering from a terrible drought will be covered in her tears that eventually turned into rivers to give life on earth.
One of the reasons I keep painting nude plus size women is to normalise the female body and to stop the mentality that nudity or certain clothes have no place in our religion. Truthfully you have much to learn about Hinduism and many need to relearn how blouses, the concept of modesty, the shaming of the female body was introduced into the religion by Mughals and the British.
Hinduism celebrates reproduction as it symbolises the creation of life and hence why our temple idols and walls are covered with sexual acts and symbols. One of the reasons I travel to different parts of India so much is to understand the ancient symbols of Hinduism. I spend a lot of time studying sculptures on temple walls and museums.
The Lajja Gauri representation of the Goddess began vanishing with the invasion of the Mughals and the British in India. However, her temples still exist, such as the Kamakhya temple and in the folklore of rural India.
To me in my painting, her lotus head symbolises knowledge and its partial bloomed state represents the need for us to continuously learn and question our ideas and thoughts to reach divinity. The fully bloomed lotus she holds symbolises the need to embrace our bodies and to blossom to our full potential. The eyes represent how knowledge and acceptance opens us to better understand ourselves in our journey to Mokhsa.
About the Artist
Visithra Manikam is a self-taught emerging Malaysian female painter and photographer from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Her art is influenced by Indian art styles (Madhubani/ Patachitra) and has a pop art/ pop surrealism/ big eye art flavour to it. Some of her work has a social message and brings forth issues she strongly supports.
In her Malaysian centric art series, she has reimagined humans to break down race, religion, colourism barriers that she believes are key issues to racial disharmony.
In 2018 she was named Champion in a live doodle competition (45 artist) and she again won the consolation prize in the live painting category for Citra Terengganu (74 artist). Besides taking part in numerous exhibitions in Malaysia, she exhibited her work in Manila, Philippines with Philippines and Malaysian artist in 2018. Her next international exhibition will be in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in March 2019.