Luminous images

Luminous images

I have often wondered about paintings. For years, they have been a constant source of interest — right from traditional oil paintings to digital art. During my not-so-memorable school life, there were certain artworks that helped deal with immense pressure. Over the years, however, there have been a few pieces that have remained as fascinating as they were when I first saw them.

Years ago, when I was around 11 years old, I went with my parents to Mysuru. It was an enjoyable trip although the particulars are a little hazy because of the passage of time.

But what does comes more to mind, and in greater detail, is a visit to an art gallery. It was the Shri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. I was intrigued by the works of Raja Ravi Varma, and a certain other painting that has fascinated me since I first saw it so many years ago.

This painting, ‘Glow of Hope’ by S L Haldankar has, along with Ravi Varma’s ‘Lady in the Moonlight’, captivated my imagination for so many years. The former shows a woman holding a lamp and surrounded by shadows. The latter has a woman sitting by a river drenched in moonlight. Waiting, apparently, or simply resting in a moonlit landscape.

Both of these have a play of mysterious, glowing light and shadow (lamplight in one and moonlight in the other). ‘Glow of Hope’ was particularly mesmerising, because the original was in a darkened room, and the lamplight in the painting was luminous.

Naturally, I purchased postcards with the paintings I most liked, ‘Glow of Hope’ among them, along with Ravi Varma’s ‘Lady in the Moonlight,’ ‘Shri Krishna Liberating His Parents’ and ‘Shri Krishna as Envoy.’ And since then these postcards have travelled with me across states. They were there when I finished school, they were there when I took up my career in writing, they are here now. Slightly the worse for wear, naturally. And yet they are as enchanting to the eye as they were to that captivated child. The imagination soars looking at the interplay of colour, the deft brushstrokes.

As for ‘Glow of Hope’ I saw a bigger postcard version at a book fair. Naturally, that was added to the older postcards. There is something riveting about glowing lamplight, something mysterious about swirling shadows. Something that nudges the imagination and inspires creativity. Some images are imprinted in the mind, images that remain through years and experiences both good and bad. For that child in the art gallery, the images began with the paintings.

Maybe it was the title that matched so well with its subject. It could have been the choice of colour and the detailing. Mostly though, it was a painting I liked very much and wanted to be able to take along with me everywhere.

Inspiration and joy come from the most unexpected sources, indeed.

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