Art has always been the mirror of society. There are major historical incidents that are identified through the art of those times. Although art was supposed to exist only to please and flatter the establishment, there were always public artworks that reflected the public history, their beliefs, and part of evolving culture. Even in the present times, public art reveals and reflects our society and adds meaning to our city.
There is a lane in Ravindrapuri, Varanasi, that holds one of the finest public artworks of the city. Since Varanasi is known to be a spiritual city, these artworks are generally related to Shiva or other Hindu mythological stories.
1- SHIVA IN KASHI: There is a legend that suggests that when Shiva visited Varanasi, he instantly fell in love with the city and could never leave it. On the upper half of the artwork, the artist has painted colorful locks of his hair that signify the joy he experiences at the sight of the city, whereas the other half is painted with all the famous temples and Ghats of the city.
2- MEDITATING SHIVA: Hindu deity Shiva is also considered as the god of art, dance, and yoga. Here, Shiva is seated on a snake and is practicing meditation. While the evil powers are trying to disturb him, Shiva is too concentrated to get distracted by anything.
On the other end of the same painting, an Aghori - the ascetic devotees of Shiva and Kali who are engaged in post-mortem rituals, is carrying pyre woods on a cart that is dragged by a lion, the carrier of goddess Kali's chariot. This signifies an upcoming cremation ceremony.
Santosh Kumar, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in painting at Banaras Hindu University, made these intriguing public artworks with five other artists from his group. He completed Master in Fine Arts from BHU in 2015. He has been in regular practice since 2007 but believes that a true artist is born after 15 years. Being a full-time artist, he is always curious to try new techniques and tools. Other than murals, pastel work and portraits are other art forms in which he excels. With the involvement of his team and city officials, he has led most of the public artworks in Varanasi and talks proudly about the mural his team completed at Kabir Math, Varanasi. He has worked in series of paintings portraying other Hindu mythological tales. Santosh likes to narrate stories through his paintings due to which most of his work is in a series of artworks.
These murals were painted in the summers of 2016 under the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Scheme ( HRIDAY Yojana). You can visit lane no.10 Ravindrapuri to experience these artworks on your own.