Janmashtami or the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth is a festival of fervour and joy in India where the flute-playing God is worshipped. Considered to be the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Krishna is worshipped in various forms: as a deity, as a baby, with his companion Radha and even as imparting wisdom to Arjuna on the battlefield. And as this year devotees flock to recite bhajans in his praise and young boys form a human pyramid to reach the famous Dahi Handi at the top, here is one artist who is reimagining the Hindu’s blue-colored natkhat nand laal.
Meet Keshav Venkataraghavan, a Chennai-based artist who paints Krishna in different costumes and colours. Highlighting different episodes from his early life, Keshav is reinterpreting the much-favoured deity. Keshav’s Krishna is beyond religion and all dogmas related to it. It doesn’t have any of the prejudices that anyone studying these Gods may be biased with and it understands the God for who he is, instead of creating a larger than life version of him. It is a Krishna that you would see walking on the streets.
Happy #Janmashtami !! ‘Rajagopala’ #watercolor #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/skowoQp6mn
— Keshav (@keshav61) August 14, 2017
Kasturi Tilakam #watercolour #blackandwhite #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/nN2tiyGkVt
— Keshav (@keshav61) August 13, 2017
Goverdhan. #watercolour #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/hTc02W3uKJ
— Keshav (@keshav61) August 9, 2017
Tvameva. #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/8gzavyuJ1U
— Keshav (@keshav61) August 4, 2017
Vatsalya #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/Lsn7lbIyh2
— Keshav (@keshav61) July 29, 2017
We have seen Krishna in the same old costume, in his standard attire, that it is important to reinvent and reimagine him for the younger generation so that he becomes relatable once again. There is a Chinese Krishna, a Japanese Krishna and all of them are at peace in their environment. The idea is to make him universal.
No matter the backdrop on which they are painted, Keshav’s Krishna’s are always in control and at peace. His works include the Experiments with Krishna series, New Forever Series, Single line series, Dialogues with Arjuna series, the Kaliamardhana series, the Govardhana series, Krishnapremi series and the Vatsalyam series.
Rajagopala. #watercolour #Papyrus #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/Lb2KOq4ipM
— Keshav (@keshav61) June 24, 2016
The war within. Dialogue with Arjuna #watercolor #Bhagavadgita pic.twitter.com/m09Dezonxd
— Keshav (@keshav61) July 19, 2016
Bamboo notes. #watercolor #Krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/WYEPErVR3w
— Keshav (@keshav61) August 5, 2016
ShukAlankara. #watercolour #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/VpM8xGEx3n
— Keshav (@keshav61) August 19, 2016
Krishna looks at Yashoda, and beholds the universe. #watercolour #krishnafortoday pic.twitter.com/FXshTjICvs
— Keshav (@keshav61) August 25, 2016
Keshav has a Greek Krishna, a Pharaoh Krishna and one that is in Chinese attire, he has one which appears to have tribal roots, and a younger version of the God wrapped around with his cowherd. He is recreating the world where the myths and epics around Krishna are no longer holding the Shri Krishna to the same pedestal as that of a God. In Keshav’s paintings, Krishna has travelled to the Mayan civilisation and visits Spain as well. Krishna is you, Krishna is me, Krishna can be anybody.