The Cavern

Size: Height X Length
Inches: 81 X 48
Cms: 206 X 122

Meduim: Oil Enamel on Canvas

Circa: 1982 – 1987

The Cavern
The Purpose of Relativity
A warm secret place, the birthplace of new awareness. This is where St. John the Baptist assures us that we must follow the ONE. The dark, warm, somewhat claustrophobic cavern (from Virgin of the Rocks) makes a perfect backdrop. The figure of the Baptist is somewhat awkward but so are his fledgling thoughts.
The journey has begun

The cavern
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The Cavern.
The Attitude.
The Purpose of Relativity.
At That Time and At That Moment:
With a burst of Bravura, I vanquished the fear, though temporarily as it turned out, but enough to draw me into the mysterious Cavern. I was struck by three things. The first was the Empirical Wonderment that was taking place between Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. The massive rock boulders hanging on both sides are, shaped by the Ultimate Master –Time. The water cascading over them and the vegetation, culminating into a small pond near my feet. The cool air, sometimes swaying the wondrous vegetation and flowers that abounded. The trickle of misty light transformed the whole Cavern into a moment of divinity. As I gazed and marveled at the Empirical delight I was absolutely certain that I had to unravel its mysteries. Oh! What is all this? How does it all happen? Should I explore the mysteries of the Empirical? Should I not explore the Spiritual instead? Can both be sought in the union? What need did I have to ponder on the Empirical when the Spiritual was the ultimate goal? A sudden gush of energy rose from my stomach to the brain and the world became a dream. From that day I became a Detached Viewer for the most part of my life. The Empirical would be sought only to enhance the Spiritual. Knowledge and perception were the characteristics of the soul. Total Knowledge and Total Perception its Zenith. To attain It would be my purpose.
The Natural Nature comes to me
As an uncertain Testimony from within the depth of my soul
And I am the detached viewer
The Moment emerging by merging the last state of a “dewdrop”
And the first stage of light is the emancipation

-Bharat Dalal


Description of the Painting :

The Cavern represents a painting drawn amazingly displaying light and brightness, seemingly removing the darkness, illumination approaching from all sides and so the figure of the Saint filled with an inner radiance, to determine accurately the source of Golden light, snatching out of the darkness. The artist had made it infinitely far from the traditional images of the white-bearded ascetic, giving the character a highly recognizable attribute with the face framed by golden curls.

The gesture of the Saint in the painting is pointing towards the heaven and it suggests the importance of salvation through Spiritual nature. Many viewers may find it a disturbing representation of a character that is normally portrayed as Gaunt and Fiery, living in a cavern and surviving on Empirical nature. In this painting the Artist had portrayed St. John with an arm bent across his chest, his finger of the hand rising towards heaven, and the enigmatic smile so admired by the viewers – that face is framed by a glorious cascade of curls. The haunting beauty of the figure comes from the ambiguity of its sexual identity, the luminous face being an emanation of the darkness, and the mysterious gesture of the raised arm with an upwards –pointing finger not only representing the Spiritual Nature but also of esoteric significance.
The young glowing spirit and the eternal aura of nature combine to create a framed fossil of moods and meanderings in the mind of the artist. The gesture of the index finger makes us think of not just the visit to the cave but also Da Vinci’s portrait of St John the Baptiste. The downward-pointing finger of the left hand indicates the laws governing life on Earth are the same as those governing the Heavens above, that is “As it is below, so it is above”. This concept implies that the visible stars in the sky are linked to the life on the earth and that the microcosm and the macrocosm are connected, which is very similar to the connection between the Empirical Nature and the Spiritual Nature.
This painting “The Cavern” is the representation of the unity of opposites, the earth and the sky in perfect harmony, a symbolism of the position of humans between the earth and the cosmos. Humans are the embodiment of God on the earth, as God is the counterpart of humans in heaven. The universe is made up of Empirical and Spiritual Natures, anything that happens in one reflects upon the other. The hands of the Saint in the painting, one pointing upward and the other pointing down, signifies “as above, so below.” Despite being opposites, there is still union like the duality of Good and Evil, the perfect representation of mercy and justice, thus representing a person’s relationship with the spiritual world – in the odyssey of the spiritual path.

St John The Baptist & Bacchus by Leonardo Da Vinci :

In art history, Leonardo made repetitive use of the index finger, in his paintings of St. John the Baptist, Virgin of the Rocks, the Last Supper, The Bacchus, and the historic Salvatore Mundi.
Scholars state that the mysterious gesture of the upward-pointing finger is not merely religious but even of esoteric significance. In terms of Biblical references and commentaries, it seems as if John the Baptist is reminding the viewer to look towards the source of their salvation, i.e., Christ the Messiah. In painterly significance, therefore, when John and Jesus are depicted together in a painting, John will frequently be pointing at Jesus. However, when John is depicted by himself, he points to Jesus in his heavenly abode.

The painting “the Cavern” by the Artist Bharat Dalal is based on the painting “St. John the Baptist” by Leonardo da Vinci. The painting “St. John the Baptist” by Leonardo Da Vinci depicts the wilderness; St. John is dressed in animal skin, has long curly hair, and is smiling with their right hand pointing upward to heaven. One of the most troubling features of the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci is that St. John the Baptist is portrayed as an Androgyne or Hermaphrodite. Da Vinci used this same gesture in many of his other paintings to signify the presence or remembrance of The John the Baptist. The painting “the Cavern” by the Artist Bharat Dalal is also based on the painting Bacchus by Leonardo Da Vinci. It is assumed that the Bacchus is derived from the St. John the Baptist painting by Da Vinci and/or his assistants. In the Bacchus, Da Vinci had pointed the left hand towards the Earth, signifying the eternal relations between the Empirical Nature and the Spiritual Nature, the relation between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Thus, the artist Bharat Dalal had very clearly depicted the painting “The Cavern” to correlate the earth and the sky, the life and the death, the creator and the destroyer, the beginning and the end, the human and the God, the Universe and the non-universe as it is known as the relativity.

The Landscape (The Background of the Painting) :

The Artist Bharat Dalal had commanded the Canvas and the Brush in this painting “The Cavern” like they were invented only for him. The saint in this painting is portrayed as a man of the forest, a man of the desert. It is very hard to tell exactly what the Artist is hinting at just from looking at the physical traits of the painting. The viewers have to look deeper into the face, the eyes, the landscape, and the face of the saint to understand the Artist’s perspective. The painting is light and dark, with not much to be seen in the background except the botanical life and flowers as landscape. This leaves all the focus on the figure painted in this painting, assuming to be at the center of two contrasting forces, a pathway from the darkness into the light. The painting is a motivation for those who are lost on the true path of righteousness. The smile of the Saint can be interpreted in two ways: it could be a welcoming gesture to those willing to accept the light, or it could be a warning to those going towards the darkness. In this painting, Bharat Dalal found the perfect balance between the light and the darkness, the place where the truth meets the lies and, in that place, he decided to place the saint to help people make the right choice.

The Style :

The painting “The Cavern” at first sight is very impactful and meaningful. The true messages of the painting are hidden behind as a correlation between the Empirical and Spiritual nature and directed by the rational and irrational physical human traits. It seems that the artist had painted with a very clear set of mind and once the viewers clear their imagination of the expectation set by the reality, this painting becomes very insightful. There are distractions caused by the figure of the saint: the enigmatic smile of the Saint and the directions of his right hand and left hand in two opposite directions. This painting makes sense when it is observed from a metamorphosis of Empirical Nature to Spiritual Nature and from the point of view of achieving emancipation or salvation through the guidance of the inner self (the soul).

The Technique & the Color :

The artist, Bharat Dalal, used the Marble Technique to draw this painting “The Cavern”. The artist smoothened the canvass and once the colors were poured on the canvas to capture the essence of abstraction in the landscape and expressionism in the figures, the painting came out with a unique feature of radiance interplaying the textures ranging from the utterly smooth to the coarse to depict three-dimensionality. St John the Baptiste portrait of the Catholic saint has awed artists and historians alike for his masterful “sfumato” technique, which gave his subject a sumptuous softness and murky quality; this painting by Bharat is about a younger individual who oozes a youthful charm. Leonardo’s image done in the famous “sfumato”, a technique pushed by the Tuscan to an unequaled finesse, was about blending softness and luminosity. The Sfumato Technique used by Leonardo da Vinci in the original painting was infinitely complex to replicate. Similarly, the technique used by Bharat Dalal is unique and the classical way to depict the extraordinary painting with symmetry and balance in the art.

The artist used the primary colors –Red-Yellow-Blue- to express the beginning, the essence or the purpose of the expression. The smooth texture used for the landscape- background showing the flowers and the botanical life at the sides and the bottom gives an inkling towards the balance between the Spiritual Nature and Empirical Nature. This floral analogy suggests the depiction of the emotions of the viewers and followers and allows the artist to express the Equanimity and Contemplation reflected by the figure of the Saint at that time or at that moment to direct towards the righteous path.

Perceptions to Pure Perceptions & the Evolution of Geometrical perspectives – I (one)
The Linear Vertical

The first fundamental perception is distilled into the first painting to bring forth this geometrical perspective of the linear vertical. The vertical marbleized veins, the standing posture, the upward-pointing finger, and the vertical rock formation all go on to emphasize the linear vertical predominance of this painting. The sustained passion and motivation for the transcendental, a relentless search for the laws of nature, inner and outer, and the actual purpose of relativity are clearly outlined here. This, along with two succeeding linear analyses, is a prelude to the first original creator perception and also the prerequisite for the first single point of perspective.

Impression & Perception

The inserted four photographs on the right demonstrate the seemingly bizarre, enigmatic, unearthly, and eerie expression of the eyes metamorphose into the spiritual, equable & introspective, as one moves towards the paintings. And what seems bizarre at first look is in fact serene, tranquil, and compassionate after all. It was therefore to erroneously construe man standing in transcendental equanimity and tranquility as bizarre, strange, and unfathomable.

Such is at it was.

Artist’s Perspective :

The artist has a “totalistic” view towards the painting “the Cavern”– that reflects the attitude and the purpose of the relativity between the Universe and the Non-universe, between the Empirical Nature and the Spiritual Nature, between the means and the ends. The artist, Bharat Dalal, has a Spiritual inclination and also tremendous philosophical nature with the scientific bent of mind to explore the limits of empirical nature through the realms of pure instincts or Natural Nature. The empirical means should be sought or utilized only for the purpose of the enhancement of the Spiritual Knowledge and to attain the pinnacle of the whole perception towards salvation. This philosophical nature merged with the Spiritual inheritance through Jainism or Hinduism invigorated Bharat Dalal to perceive the knowledge of defining the Natural Nature through the painting “The Cavern”. The light and shadow in the painting, the opposite directions of the fingers of the left and right hand, one pointing upward and other downward, merged with his inner self (the Soul) to infinitely larger cosmos (nature) that brought him to depict a painting with very basic interpretation of the attitude of the society. He allowed viewers to analyze the painting up to the level of individual knowledge through the interpretation of the eyes & the windows to the soul from Bizarre & Enigmatic to Calm and Introspective. This perception is unique and that uniqueness is only reflected in the paintings and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.

Writer’s Perspective (Conclusion) :

The Cavern by Bharat Dalal is a classical renaissance painting based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Painting. This painting explains the Scientific, the Philosophical, the Spiritual, and the Empirical knowledge and perception of Bharat Dalal at his extreme level to merge the physiological needs or circumstances with the intuition of recognizing the outer universe to begin eternity. The painting St. John the Baptist by Leonardo Da Vinci was well recognized and appreciated by critics once they realized the inherent meaning of Shadow & Light, the pointing finger towards the upward direction, and the enigmatic smile of the Saint with a face of Dual sexuality. Similarly, the painting “the Cavern” by Bharat Dalal gives ample space for the critics to think beyond the normal circumstances of Empirical boundaries and to correlate the Spirituality with the relevant or irrelevant perspectives of the society towards the righteous path of emancipation. Thus, Bharat Dalal has started a new perspective or the genre of the artwork to be accepted as the Universal age of the Renaissance. The concept of relativity measured in terms of merging the Universe with the non- Universe illustrates the scientific and philosophical bend of the Artist’s mind. It also shows the impact of Jain or Hindu scriptures to depict through the portrayal of the Cavern. The use of primary colors, the balance in the art, and the unique marble technique with very high quality and precision of drawing and painting the character with perfection make Bharat Dalal at par with the Renaissance Master Artists.

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