Sonntag, 22. Mai 2011

Airavata, the white elephant


The story of the white elephant in my life started on that black Wednesday in the year 1999, when the German government had the mindblowing idea and guts to go to war again. I almost freaked out. What to do? Run screaming into the streets? Paint posters for demonstrations? While I paced around in my small flat like a tigress in a cage, my eyes stopped at the little antique silk painting I had brought back from a trip to India some years ago: a grey elephant with it‘s trunk upwards, called the lucky elephant.
YESSS, I felt, this is the answer - I will not stop to paint elephants till this disaster is over. No sooner said than done. The small grey elephants I started with eventually turned, picture after picture, into huge ones and then, after two years, into my pièce de résistance: a white elephant, wearing a white lotus flower. There was someting very special in that painting. I couldn’t turn away from him - such an incredible benign charisma he had that I almost could not believe that it was me who had painted this.

Soon afterwards I went into a library to do some research about the kings of Bavaria. I came to a shelf where I saw a huge book about elephants. Of course I took it home. It was very heavy - after all, it was a book about elephants!
In this book, I found with great astonishment the story about Airavata, the holy white elephant who is one of the greatest Gods in Indian mythology, the guardian and supporter of the universe. Airavata appeared to pregnant Queen Maja in a dream, and very softly he caressed her venter with a white lotus flower he held in his trunk. When she woke up, she knew that she would give birth to a very special child. And so it was; her son, the prince Siddharta, became the Buddha.

Two young gallery owners of  art:ig  in Munich fell in love with the painting. But I told them I would never ever sell it in my life. So they had the wonderful idea that I should paint 2 more different covers and we put them via Photoshop on the picture. From those, they made huge (up to 1,30 m) special light-resistant reproductions and sealed it on wood. And some of them, being cut out, can come to be an object on the wall.

As you probably guessed, I still paint elephants - but now only one every year.
I know about the strange saying of the "white elephant" in English spoken countrys, and it makes me sad that this divine animal is associated with such rude materialistic thoughts. So it would be an honour for me if I can help, with my painting, and this story, to restore his reputation.  

                                                                  Exposition July 2009
                                                A film from Björn Sörensen:



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