Depicting beings of pure consciousness is different in one key aspect from depicting usual objects. A representation of lightning doesn't give shocks. A true evocation of an energy being… actually calls it there. And when that happens it can be jaw dropping.
Tarun Cherian Shaktipats Disguised as Art.

Humpty Dumpty Meets God:

“Humpty Dumpty meets God is an art exhibition that marries the irony of our post-modern world with the most ancient of questions — how to escape gravity and reach mukti?” -- Dhwani Desai, in Times of India.

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The Event: On 23rd July evening, 2018, as you stepped into ChitraKala Parishath, you witnessed a stellar gathering of art connoisseurs & spiritualists in numbers closer to a rock concert, you looked around and recognised many, these were not numbers, they were thought leaders. You too had been fascinated by 'Humpty Dumpty Meets God' concept so generously covered by Times of India, Bangalore Mirror, The Hindu, Malayalam Manorama, Economic Times, TV 9, Vijayvani, MM Tv. The art had captured the imagination of seasoned journalists. Signature pieces like Atma Unleashed, bristling with knives & spiritual liberation made you mark the day on your event calendar.

Then the erudite Chief Secretary, Chiranvjiv Singh spoke. He traced mystic art, placed the exhibition in context. He showered high praise, saying that of the hundreds of art events he had presided over this was surely the most thought provoking.

From words of wisdom one went to action. Exploding on to the exhibition space were 7 Kalari adepts, lead by Master Boby Kalari Yogi. {Video url to Facebook Post by Sonali}Their use of leaps, sword and shield, created a passionate, thunderous atmosphere. At once angular, forceful, heaven-scraping.

The audience then began circulating around the art. As they did so they were assaulted, tickled, questioned, intrigued, startled, and taken on A Journey of Spiritual Awakening Through Art.

 

Stage 1. On Life's fry pans, some occupy thrones, some sleep, some... The first thing you notice as you turn the corner are 3 Claymaticish Humptys on fry pans. There's something about them that provokes a chuckle. And then an 'Oh' as the deeper message strikes home.

Humty Dumpty Meets God on lifes fry pans by spiritual artist tarun cherian

Says Dhwani Desai, In TOI, “There are three Humpty Dumpties on frying pans... which represents the fact that although we all know that we are going to die someday, we push it to the back of our minds. The different Humpties show peoples different attitudes towards death. While one Humpty is meditating on the frying pan, the other is lying down like he is going to sleep, while the third is sitting like Donald Trump on the seat of power.” 

Yes, we are all Humptys so how face it? Power, wisdom, detachment? A debate is launched in the mind. To illustrate: An auto driver driving us around looked up at one of Bangalore’s proudest apartments and asked with a sage’s indifference, “Saar, why anyone needs so much space, all you need is a bed to lie on.” Mentally we bowed our heads to him. The auto driver doesn't have the luxury of meditating for hours. Owns precious little. But...

Boxed Wisdom by spiritual artist Tarun Cherian from Humpty Dumpty Meets God

Stage 2: Coneptual Questions: The chuckles increase as you move to the next series. In four 10" square boxes one sees conceptual work. Messages written on egg cartons. “Spanish Omlette, English Breakfast, Hampi scrambled. Or is there something better on the menu?” asks the first conceptual piece. And one wonders is there more? really more. The next deepens the questioning poignantly: "If I find my other half I shall be whole" it says. But will two eggshells put together {be it me and my true love} become an egg again? The third with a cryptic "Hello, Goodbye Hello" takes an amused look at past lives. The last, "In the beginning you want to escape, in the end you want to curl up", underlines the sheer endurance needed in any titanic achievement and especially scaling the heights of God.

Mortality's Touch: Your eyes are now drawn downward to a compelling image. The Head In a Nest of Hammers. Suddenly the laughter is wiped off your face. As you look at the head, bristling with nails on a nest of hammers, you realise we cannot surround ourselves with force and keep safe. For real freedom we will have to shatter. Well, yes, we know none of us can quite keep death's questions at bay. But an intellectual appreciation of sickness, suffering, death, drive very few to follow in Buddha's footsteps, or Jesus'... Then it hits you, as it may have in life...

On lifes chopping board by spiritual artist Tarun Cherian

"On life's chopping board some discover they have wings". Here you are confronted with a stinky fish monger's chopping board. You can see fish scales. A butcher's knife bites into the wood. Below, spreadeagled a wire frame man, with faint dragonfly wings hinted below. Eggshells strewn in a circle deepen the visceral reaction. At some point or the other, all of us have been on the chopping block. For Anandhi the wake up call came as she found herself back seriously injured in a bus accident. For S it was the screaming ugliness of a childhood rape {She was 3}. For Kanak, the turning point was when a friend was trapped in a fire, and the friend communicated a message to us, only Kanak knew about. Like someone with heart cut out, you stagger and wander. You seek answers. You seek healing. You seek the truth.

Stage 3: Beyond The Kings Men… God’s World. Hit by life we often discover that the cracks in our life cannot be repaired by ‘the Kings’ horses or men’. We turn to deeper sources. As we plunge in, deep in the sanctum of sanctums one finds the primal…

Akkrahanna the cosmic egg by spiritual artist tarun Cherian, from Humty Dumpty Meets God Art Exhibition

Tarun presents us with Akkrahanna: The Cosmic Egg. An iconic egg bristling with nails. Terrifying yet healing. It evokes life’s thorniness, the yoni’s mystery, cosmic wholeness. Many stood before it, at the exhibition, and discovered it had real spiritual power. "My heart began to palpitate" said entrepreneur Sunil K. "I found my body trembling" said Diana. We are indeed back at prehistory, when icons called the old Gods. Like Deepa we may feel the quivering of wings around, and the anguish recede. Like Amita we may feel an arm surround when all hope is lost. Shalini battling 3rd stage cancer discovered her cancer vanish in a week. We invite you to meditate on this image. In the easiest technique you focus on the centre. After awhile close your eyes. This one of the most powerful pieces Tarun has ever created has been acquired by a spiritualist. "I had to have it." She said.

Touched by the inexplicable, you cannot go back to the Newtonian World. You are now officially a seeker stepping into realms only mystics and advanced physicists dare to enter. As the interview by Shailaja in The Hindu points out. "The central premise of the show: Awakening has been described as going from caterpillar to butterfly. The shift from the mortal to immortal. From gravity-bound to soaring eagle. From fragile egg to cosmic wholeness or the Hiranyagarbha."

Stage 4: The Price You Will Pay… The Guru… The first step to many seekers is finding a Guru… In 3 assemblages we see Humpty Dumpty’s beckoning us, while seated on the maw of death. One merrily welcomes us up. Another has a big spoon. Another seriously lets down a rope. With humour we approach issues of deep seriousness. “Celia & I have helped many extend their lives, heal, but finally death will call. Hells yawn. And rebirth beckon. So for the seeker to soar we maybe comforting for awhile, but finally to help you soar we need to peck you out of the nest.”     

Who Can Guide Us Beyond The Maw of Death by Spiritual Artist Tarun Cherian

Stage 5: God is Disorienting… Billions meditate, pray… millions seek the ultimate truth. Mystic literature often describes this in joyous, even saccharine terms. Very few reveal how demanding Awakening is. But why you may ask, “I am reaching for God and surely it will be miraculous?” True. Untrue.  True it is glorious. But untrue that it is without issues.

Perhaps the show can illuminate some of the challenges ahead. Drawings in the show reveal birds cycling up above the world. We often think earth’s rules hold at higher realms. They don’t.

Kamala a brilliant seeker had visited a temple, suddenly she felt the divinity so forcefully she could not stand. ‘I have been here before…’ she cried out going into a near faint.

This series loved by graphic artists, for their playful line has been acquired.

Cycling among the stars by spiritual artist Tarun Cherian, from Humpty Dumpty Meets God Art Exhibition

“But why is the journey after encountering the divine so disconcerting?” Bela a deep seeker asked. In ‘Head in a Nest of Hammers’, we see a white head, bristling with nails, nestling in a nest of hammers. And in ‘Head of Prophecy’, where we see a white textured head on a bed of ropes and twigs {Maya ke jaal?}, on which a wire frame bird, sits seeking to hatch the head. On the spiritual journey we have to unlearn, to unthink, to unbe…

Stage 7: Beyond The Ego. But heaven cannot be ascended just by effort; “For the bird to emerge, the egg must break. For the God to emerge, the man must break.” In an iconic set of pieces in the art show, we see wire mesh torsos on hangars; you notice intertwined are cutting pliers, seeds sprouting, musical speakers. It is one thing to look at, quite another to experience. Shweta approaching the Primal Goddess felt herself being erased. A terrifying sensation as her ego was treated like eggshell to be discarded.   

Stage 6: The Seeker Confronts Perfection. As the seeker rises higher he also confronts another issue. “The seeker questions himself, “I am not perfect, the knives of rage, hurt, arrogance, fear, rigidity, are too apparent in me. How can I dare heaven, riddled as I am with earthly barbs?” These words echo thoughts from the Indian Tradition. Resonate with the Christian Liturgy… “I am not worthy to come to thy table… But…”

As the seeker wrestles with his unworthiness he encounters another revealing Icon. Atma Unleashed. Seven knives evoke the image of a bird in flight. Six knives point down. One aims upward. And so one understands. ‘I may be foolish, arrogant, giddy-headed, lost, but if I keep the knife edge of my being pointed to the divine, the cosmic will use the ugliness to power my flight.’

Atma Unleashed an icon of great power by spiritual artist Tarun Cherian

Atma unleashed however is not just a piece to be viewed but one that can be meditated on, that allows you to soar. And many let themselves go deep with the work. Film maker Kathryn, pictured below said "The energy was so strong, i feel lifted and at peace, a true masterpiece." Says Sr Editor Rashmi Rao, "The pointed knife exhibit was a surrreal experience. I felt like something or someone was rocking me, but the mind was calm."

Film maker Kathryn meditating on Atma Unleashed by Spiritual Artist Tarun Cherian

Stage 8: The Breakthrough. We now come to the moment of breakthrough which is reflected in installation ‘Reaching beyond The Grave’. In it a baby’s coffin, outwardly black, inwardly golden, is placed on a sheet writhing with symbolic force on which forks & knives circle menacingly. In the coffin is a fishbowl, it is filled with glass pieces {on which Tarun cut his face half a year ago, barely missing his eye}, from it a hand emerges that has clearly pushed the coffin’s lid aside. This striking image was loved by many. Says art collector Anila A, "this is the message that must be seen, must be heard..."

Reaching beyond The Grave by spiritual artist Tarun Cherian

Nishi, was doing what a lot of Mumbaikars do, crossing the tracks as suburban trains whiz past. But she stumbled and cracked her knee on the rails. As she looked up just 20 feet away she could see the horror in the motorman’s eyes whose train was racing towards her. Just then she felt a huge force lift her up, and throw her from the tracks. 15 feet, Sure she was slim, a mere 50 kgs, but still there was no one who could have lifted a 50 kg weight and tossed her like a pebble.

“For the bird to emerge the egg must break. For the God to emerge the man must break.”

Stage 9: Rejoicing in The Whole... We have now been flung beyond the realm of gravity. Into the heart of joy... A realm pure, joyous, playful, glorious... Tarun catches this joy in watercolours where childlike whimsy and gentle humour are interlaced. For example in the first work in this series we see a disheartened man with his back against the Cosmic Egg. These are the tiniest art pieces in the show, but their tininess and coulur, and playful only serve to enhance the seriousness of impact!

the cosmic & I by Spiritual Artiost Tarun Cherian

For indeed, the divine's pure playfulness is sometimes shocking. In The Cosmic & I subseries we see how it teases us and clasps us, challenges us, and blesses, often all at the same time! For example, Ashwin, catapulted through meditation discovered that at the heart of the cosmos is a laugh. Ravi in deep meditation realized cosmic ripples dance through every inch of existence. Vasu found herself one day encountering a glowing playful, almost puppy like presence that introduced itself to her as joy.

Cosmic Riddle Series by Spiritual Artist Tarn Cherian

But there are other tones with which the cosmic introduces itself. Divya for example, when encountering the primal discovered it was deep inky, a peace so enveloping, she almost lost consciousness. Tanya, 15 years ago was catapulted into a place where she felt the sun and moon were her anklets. Vinaya, in her encounter with the heart of hearts a decade ago spoke of a deep whirlpool of force. This depth of divinity Tarun captured in 3 acrylics and 3 watercolours that an artist described as almost Japanese. "Beautiful, awesome, the Shiva painting stands out for me" Exclaims Radhika Gajulla, educationist and spiritual seeker, referring to the centrepiece.

Stage 10: Standing Tall… in a Broken World…
Glimpsing the light is one thing. Living the light is quite another. As one walks the spiritual path, things change. Savi, when her Kundalini began to awaken, found herself attracting hundreds of suitors.

In a dog eat dog world it’s hard to remain true and... ‘Unbroken’, a conceptual piece with mirrors, speaks of the endurance needed. In it are 4 mirrors, increasingly broken. In the first, eggshells spell out: “I can fall but I will not break”. The second goes one step further. “I can break but I will not be crushed”. The third states, “I can be crushed but I will not die.” The last proclaims “I can die but I will be born again.” To Kala K, PR Entrepreneur, this was the piece de resistance. "It is me, my life, my never say die spirit."

Unbroken by Spiritual Artist Tarun Cherian

As we look at this, the deep, indomitable, spirit of a true seeker comes through. This is not the language of cheap hope, and easy miracles. But of the true spiritual warrior. One thinks of St Paul who not only is prepared to be crucified, but chose to do so upside down. One thinks of The Yogi whose calm impressed Alexander The Conqueror. One thinks of the Cathar masters who sang when being burnt alive on the pyre. We recall The Battle of Karbala. The 300 against The Persians. The Sikh Gurus facing impossible odds.

Closer home, one thinks of Pramod who has battled a degenerative illness to a full stop, given 2 years to live in 2000, healing gave him the courage to walk on, go from height to height, even though the drops of a shower are like nails. We recall Sukhjit, whose grit took her from being able to walk 10 feet to several kilometres.

Facing Life's Darts by Spiritual Artist Tarun Cherian

We now look at mystic faces expressionistically painted on dart boards. Those who stand in our world and walk in the light will face sniggers, obstacles, brickbats. But if you revisit the images of mystics facing Life's dartboards, after you delighted in the strokes, and the thought behind the pieces, you will perhaps realise like Divya did that there were presences that were attached to them. You will not just be taking a piece to hang in your drawing room. You will be taking a window through which spiritual presences can reach and touch you. What you did not see was the reverse of the dartboards were covered with symbol that allows loving guides, commanding prophets, deep meditators to look through and bless you.

You look again, at the dart boards, and you realisethat you are not alone. Others have walked with you. Others have faced this. And not just from ancient history. But today. Now. Take a brilliant aura seer like Divya, her illuminating insights enrich many, but not unnaturally her IT work world is suspicious. Boby Kalari Yogi like so many of you battled back from a crippling accident. Green evangelists like Zahid & Jaya not unnaturally encounter opposition. Animal lovers like Georgina & Vasu love of animals naturally have their detractors. Bela’s school for special children has a rare charm, yet struggles with challenges. We are warmed by Tony who fed the homeless even when he was managing with a salary of 3,500/- and Ravi who adopted a village in spite of a business downturn. We are amazed by Madhupa, who finds a single step agony, yet is mother hen to many. And Shweta whose health is off the charts and yet is support to hundreds. We think of Tanya, in the day reassuring real estate clients, in the evening communing with the highest realms. We recall Ankita* who in spite of transcending the cycle of death & rebirth, chose to return, to care for her brother. We think of all of you who have risen above impossible challenge, and care for the suffering, street children, lost cats... even saved forests… we think of all of you, who through word, example and spirit reveal the light.  There are too many of you to name, a glorious constellation proclaiming, we may be Humpty Dumpties but the garbage heap is certainly not our final destination. 

You have walked a great distance... You have walked a great, mental distance, 11 subseries, a selection from 44 works. Some humorous, some savage, some puzzling, some transcendent, joyous, skyrocketing... And yet the journey you walked through this exhibition is but a foretaste of the journey we all of us must take. In this life or another. In the spiritual metamorphosis, many find Tarun's Art a great support. "Everyday I look at the piece I have picked and it gives me a tiny jolt of joy." -- M Vaz. "To me Akkrahanna, The Cosmic Egg which I am taking home, is so much more than a work of art" says Diana. "It is like the centre of a new me."

Spiritual Adept Divya looking at exhibits from Humpty Dumpty Meets God by Tarun Cherian

From Fragile Humpty to Cosmic Wholeness... In the 1800's Lewis Carrol gave us the quizzical and immortal Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, illustrated as a fat egg on a wall. But through the simple, yet immortal words of this nursery rhyme, echoes so much more... The spanish festival of smashing eggs, the blood witch egg rite, the legend of a mortar on a fort wall with exploding cannon balls. But beyond this Tarun sees the egg from prehistory, symbolising life's fragility and wholeness. Did you know that among the first messages mankind drew and wrote were messages on eggshells 60,000 years ago! And imagine some have survived intact when ancient forts have fallen. From 10,000 years ago, in the middle east, the worship of Astarte was marked by the egg, especially during spring's renewal, {hence the easter egg tradition}. In India, from prehistory and recorded history similar ideas of cosmic beginning, wholeness and fertility finds expression in the Hiranyagarbha concept. Taking this concept as its base, the innumerable echoes, from primal time to broken time and beyond... Tarun has crafted... what has Tarun crafted really? In a real sense it is like Dante's inferno... a journey to God. There are works that are allegorical. Like those painted by Brueghel. There are works that are conceptual. There are works that take you into spaces lyrical and momentous. There are works that are iconic that place the transcendent before you. And as you reflect on the depth in each piece and the exhibition as a whole you realise this is not an artist revisting spiritual themes. But as Jayanthi Madhukar put it so eloquently in the Bangalore Mirror; "What happens when a spiritualist wields the brush? An upcoming show by Tarun Cherian has the answer."

Artists Loved The "Experimentation & Excellence. But it is not just spiritualists who came to the show and applauded, many artists were generous in their praise. Baldev Gambhir, winner of The National Award, had rare warmth, tears in his eyes as he praised the show. "Dil hai... Asman hai", he said {"It has heart... it has sky"}. The renowned artist, SG Vasudev, found it "a most interesting show." "New experiment, really excellent" said award winner Mahalingappa, high praise from a sculptor and artist known for his incredible mastery. "Superlative" said award-winning Creative Director & Art Historian & Curator, Tina S. The president of Karnataka Cartoonist Association, VRC. Shekar, termed it "A good exhibition... thank you", then burst into high flown Kannada to express himself. There was an incredible host of the next gen of artists who found the exhibition a truly liberating experience. Of the many, we recall just 2 names, Ananya, who found it "magnificent... ineffable" and Srikala, who paid the ultimate compliment by refusing to write, saying "she simply couldn't do it justice..."

Yes, the spiritual journey is joyous, ecstatic, challenging, impossible, terrifying, metamorphic and rewarding. Over the last 3 decades as spiritualists and the last 20 years in 7 iconic art shows, Tarun & Celia have revealed aspects of the divine in art that has at times scraped the heacvens. "Come we will show you incredible aura vistas, astral freedoms, we will help you cross the terrifying crevasses of the hurt self, unriddle past lives, encounter shaktis, perhaps meet alien presences, walk to other universes, glimpse angels, combat demons, touch God's feet, understand cosmic principles... and brush the very heart of hearts." -- Tarun & Celia Cherian.