The Mythical Cow

‘In Search of Innocence’: Sidharth and the Mythical Cows

In celebrating the sacred cow, Sidharth captures a unique aspect of the Indian experience. He guides us through a world of innocence, simplicity, beauty, religious inspiration, political satire and much else besides and expresses a vision and fashions a world at once fantastic and familiar. The works bear eloquent testimony to the sheer joy and freedom he finds in the act of creation and in the compulsion to express himself. He approaches the figure of the cow with an abandon that is intoxicating and a sense of devotion that inspires awe while very apparently enjoying every material that comes to hand and every process the mind can conceive. The passion he brings to his art ensures that it is not just aesthetically appealing but also significant.

This innocent and vivid cowrie shell cow with the bell around its neck typifies Sidharth’s current body of work. While constantly in touch with his deep-rooted artistic traditions, he chooses a more personal path here. Almost driven by divine command the sophistication and realistic presence of the cow exudes purity untainted by outside influences. There is clearly a sense of enjoying a natural form – here the cowrie shell – and adapting it to suit his creative purposes which also conveys the belief that figural forms are inherently present in any material or their grouping, waiting to emerge through the artist’s creative intervention and manipulation. In this case, the cow is both protector and guardian, somewhat whimsical, greatly entertaining and immensely enchanting. The detailing is painstakingly and lovingly rendered. The figure of the cow seems utterly at ease and tranquil: a potent cultural symbol, its charming and benign gaze enhanced by its jaunty ear and horns.

For Sidharth, the motif of the sacred cow involves a rediscovery and a revelation of eternal paradigms which exist in that dimension of infinitely expanded space and time. The very existence of this eternal transcendent realm is revealed by him. The mythic or transcendent patterns that exist in his notion of eternity as expressed through the motif of the cow contain the essence of truth which, though not widely recognized, are nevertheless manifested in the cycles of nature and in every living being. Artists express their essence in the way they create: the more in tune they are with themselves, the closer they come to expressing that essence coherently and clearly. This work not only expresses Sidharth’s subjective essence but also recreates or, more accurately, re-actualizes one of the mythical patterns that have served as a model for existence since time immemorial. Thus, the defining aspect of this work is the eloquence and grace with which he intertwines narrative and technique as well as the dexterity with which he combines the personal with the mythical in a manner that is subjective yet instantaneously accessible to the viewer.

Sidharth weaves a complex narrative based upon stories and experiences. Cryptic signs, powerful emblems and wistful forms all point to an artistic practice which to some may appear naïve but is, in fact, brimming with spontaneity and a refreshing lack of self-consciousness. Unfailingly elegant in his craftsmanship, his imagery allows the viewer to experience an authentic, elemental and unique simplicity that is often hard to find in contemporary art.

Ms. Anirudh Chari