Some Indian philosophies follow the “four main goals of life”, known as the purusharthas:
1. Dharma: Virtuous living.
2. Artha: Material prosperity.
3. Kama: Aesthetic and erotic pleasure.
4. Moksha: Liberation.
Dharma, Artha and Kama are aims of everyday life, while Moksha is release from the cycle of death and rebirth. The Kama Sutra (Burton translation) says: “Dharma is better than Artha, and Artha is better than Kama. But Artha should always be first practised by the king for the livelihood of men is to be obtained from it only. Again, Kama being the occupation of public women, they should prefer it to the other two, and these are exceptions to the general rule.” (Kama Sutra 1.2.14)
A series of paintings offered here by the K+K bear a title Reflections on Kama Sutra. Usually the first thing that comes to mind when these words are pronounced is Sexual Positions, techniques of love-making in ancient India. In fact Kama Sutra is much more than that. It is a part of understanding of human existence and the way people live their lives. Kama sensuality is one of the four philosophical notions following Artha material prosperity and Dharma virtuous living. In this sense the idea of virtue is supreme as something one has to strive for and artha material prosperity and Kama sensuality is that what people are preoccupied with in their daily lives. The final notion of the four is moksha – liberation meaning liberation from artha and kama and striving to eternity and higher wisdom.
The paintings in this series are reflections on the philosophical notions on the nature and meaning of life. The images the viewer sees here are certainly not a Sutra i.e. rules of sensuality but rather an attempt to reveal the inner meaning of sexual and sensual unity. It is an act of birth, and destruction, it is violence and pleasure, it is tenderness and caring and it is deviousness and seduction. The wicked look on a woman’s face bursting out of the phallus symbol is exactly the kind of artistic reflection on the Sutra –Rules of Kama sensuality. Deceit danger risk fear and recklessness are all a part of sensual pleasure and yet men and women seek it.
The image of water, streaming substance is as close to Kama – sensuality as can be. Yet its deeper meaning is not only bodily fluids that generate new life but also a symbol of change, time and timelessness and a stream that takes us to the shores of the unknown.
Kama sensuality and Artha material prosperity is that what most people devote their lives to. To put it crudely money and sex are the main pillars of our contemporary material Western way of life. We teach our kids to be successful and make a lot of money equating the two. Millions of advertisements are devoted to how to be sexy meaning appealing and sexually alluring to the other. We are celebrating wealth and sex even more than the author of kama Sutra did. We forgot that Kama sensuality goes hand in hand not only with Artha material prosperity but also with Dharma virtue and most importantly with liberation – Moksha.
It is in this philosophical context that these painting should be understood. What is Moksha liberation following Kama sensuality? It can be a liberation in a feeling of fulfillment after the sexual act, or a feeling of emptiness when ones mission is fulfilled. Or it can be a notion of the end of earthly Kama sensuality and the beginning of a higher purpose, reaching new spirituality and wisdom. Or it can mean reaching a higher level of understanding life as overcoming Kama and striving to God, or eternity and spirituality.
All these motifs are clearly seen in the images presented here. It is the Moksha – spirituality as well as the Kama sensuality that the artists celebrate. It is a reflection on how and why people proceed to the spiritual after they have emptied themselves in the stream of Kama.
The paintings presented here call for reflection and deny clear subject matter definition. They are a flight of poetry and an attempt to convey by images that which has preoccupied men for ages, – the relationship between body and spirit, between earthy concerns and virtue, between the meaning of life and our purpose of being here.