“Gokula dreaming of India” by Mumbiram, Oil on canvas, 1988, Japan
This is one of five oil paintings that Mumbiram made during his stay in Japan. Mumbiram met Gokula in Krishna’s Vrindavan. It was a very unique friendship between two lovers of Krishna who were too sincere to belong to any organized sect that existed in the holy land. A detailed account of their time together in Vrindavan and in Japan is available in “Gokula Catalogue” which Distant Drummer publishing has put together for publication. One need not know all of that to appreciate this painting though it greatly enhances the experience of this work as Rasa Art. Here we see a reclining Gokula dreaming of India. Gokula has fallen asleep while reading a book about India. She is wearing a green tie-dye saree with red border. Jagannath has appeared in her dream. Mumbiram had brought many nice sarees for Gokula. Gokula had worn only sarees in India. Mumbiram was always proud of that. Gokula was very happy that her beloved artist liked to see her in sarees. Vrindavan was on their mind. Their bodies were in Japan. Their minds would not leave the magical domain of Krishna. Mumbiram treats every single painting as a unique creation. He does not let his art get into a stereotyped style. Making paintings in Japan was a great challenge. The rendering has to be true to several distinct cross-cultural realities. Mumbiram’s hands-on approach has created a great composition and a great mood. The patterns on Gokula’s saree and on the Indian printed handloom sheet are created with carved potatoes as printing blocks. As a rendering of a reclining sleeping maiden this painting has no peer. The intimate intertwining of the artist’s life and his art is the vital ingredient that goes in making such a natural Rasa Classic.