By Sharmila Chand April 2000 Indian painter A.S. Chitrak blends spirituality with art to create a powerful image of the divine ‘My religion consists of a humble admiration of the limitless superior spirit who reveals itself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of the superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God. Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.’ So said Albert Einstein. And his words are the best expression of the feelings and thoughts that shape A.S. Chitrak’s world of paintings. Chitrak. How apt the name is, symbolizing both the creator as well as creativity. Steeped in Hindu myth and mysticism, Chitrak paints with faith and inspiration. His is a lyrical style to recreate myths and legends in pictorial form. Each painting glows with the right color tone, touching the inner depth of heart and mind. Whether it is the image of Shiva, steeped in antiquity; or the big-bodied, lustrous-like-million-suns Dhyan Ganapati, with his curved trunk; or the metaphysical facets of Devi, or the enigma of Surya worship, each work gives an answer to his inner quest. This is essentially ‘mythology’—that speaks beyond religion and rituals. As the artist says: ‘I feel that Indian mythology is not confined to the old rituals that are blindly being followed, or the flights of imagination of the grandmothers’ tales, but a lot more than that. It is deep philosophical thinking and interpretation of a Universal Science.’ Classical music enthusiast, interior designer and actor, Chitrak puts his heart in whatever he does. Peer closer and you find his feelings and vibrations transporting you to another world. Amazing how he expresses his insights in the philosophical idiom, striking a chord with kindred spirits. There are some outstanding images like Vyomakesha is the Universe, showing the Lord and Jiva—how Jiva becomes one with the Lord after the enlightenment. Everything in nature is subservient to time or kala. Prakriti and all its powers function only to give experience to Jiva. This chain of good and bad actions is beautifully depicted in the deep blue tone of Mahakala. While the arrow in Onkareshwara symbolizes Jivatman, which, when discharged, merges in Paramatman. The two arms of the Lord are the two powers of Maya—Dharma and Adharma, which confer happiness or misery on Jivaaccording to his karma. Chidananda also depicts the bondage of Jiva due to his desires and karmas in his previous births. While Sachidananda reflects the consciousness in Brahman, with which Jiva merges. Thus, the inquisitive philosopher in Chitrak is always looking for some mythological element to penetrate its deep meaning. He starts with intensive research on the subject and the rest just follows. Having done the series on Nau-Durga, Ganesha and Shiva, this ardent Ramakrishna Paramahansa devotee has set his eye on Surya. Why Surya is a female god in Japanese culture and worshipped as a male god elsewhere is an enigma he wishes to unravel and capture in his next venture. Chitrak’s religion has no bondage, boundaries or name. Creating not-so-specific and ‘difficult to sell’ paintings—in which his wife supports him—has not affected Chitrak’s enthusiasm or fascination for the unique journey he has embarked on: setting his art apart from a common, modern abstract style. So gaze, absorb and experience Chitrak’s world of painting, and wonder at the pulsating power of the divine.
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