Art and spirituality

SHARE   |   Sunday, 01 March 2015   |   By Ontametse Sugar
Indian artist Jayaraman Indian artist Jayaraman

Art uses one language which can be understood by each and every person regardless of who  they are or where they come from in the world. It is one aspect of communication that the deaf can understand, and that the mute can also understand without anyone having to interpret for them. With this it has the ability of connecting people around the world. This is what led to Gopal Jayaraman - an Indian artist in Botswana to paint  the things that he saw in Botswana in relation to culture and spirituality. In his paintings Jayaraman portrays the spiritual side of his native country of India which is Hinduism, which is totally different to what Batswana believes in.
Botswana is one country that is popular for having more cows than the people and it is also one of the biggest exporters of beef to the European market. It is tradition for Batswana to slaughter cows during celebrations, and red meat is widely eaten by Batswana on a day to day basis. Jayaraman found this very strange when he came to Botswana, because as a Hindu, they do not eat a cow as it is their sacred animal which means they bestow respect on it. Seeing how easily cows are slaughtered in Botswana and how they are eaten without mercy inspired the Indian native to take a brush and paint that. In his piece Jayaraman challenges as to why Batswana kill so many cows for an event even though there are other things that they can eat.
He said that he wanted to portray his paintings that spirituality is within us as in the nature and aggressiveness of life. Most of his paintings had the colour white; which he said is to communicate that despite all these differences, there should be peace within people. “I have been in Botswana since 2004 and have been to many celebrations where cows are killed, and that is where the peace aspect comes in because seeing them killed is not supposed to make me react in any other negative way because to the people doing that it is normal and harmless,” he said. He said in his art he also portrays the similarity that his country - India - has on ancestral worship to that of Botswana. He said he also wants to communicate that and find where he fits because it is said in history that life started in Africa, something that they all want to have a relationship with as to how they got to be in the part of the world that they are in. His pieces are exhibited at Thapong Visual Arts Centre.

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