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The First Divine Bath - Australian Interpretation
My artwork expresses elements of both Chinese and Indian art style because the earliest Buddhist texts are from India and China. This has also been expanded to include the idea of International Buddhism across the World. The Chinese and Indian elements of the painting represent both the Past and East elements of the theme. The Present and West have been merged together to add the element of Australia, including the local region, and a more modern style of art.
Much thought was given to the individual elements of the painting, so as not to destroy the traditional Buddhist understanding of Buddha’s first divine bath, and also to include some more modern aspects to connect with a modern audience. The red and gold dragon has been painted in a traditional Chinese style and shows the dragon providing the warm water, represented by the warm steam cloud, for the bathing of the mother and baby. The Australian water dragon is blue, representing the cool water being poured into the lotus leaf bath to be warmed by the heat from the fire dragon. The two dragons bring together the elements of east and west, past and present, hot and cold.
The Lotus leaf bath has rainbow coloured petals representing both the rainbow, the full spectrum of light, and also the coloured crystals that surrounded the Buddha statue sitting on the wagon in the ancient Buddha’s birthday parades.
The baby Buddha is shown in a modern western style body position but with an angelic Buddha style face, again combining the elements of east and west. Buddha’s mother, Maya, has been painted in a traditional Madonna and baby style to merge Christianity, Buddhism and motherhood, as mothers and babies are really are all the same the world over, regardless of religious or philosophical beliefs. Maya’s clothing is painted in the modern Indian style of Sari and veil.
Flowers represent the garden where Buddha took his first bath with his mother. The lotus flower bath, lotus pods and pond have been included as traditional, past and eastern elements. The Gymea Lily has been selected as it is a native Australian flower, occurring in the Sydney / Illawarra region.
The Bird of Paradise flower has been included as it grows all over the world and represents the paradise / better life elements of Buddhist Philosophy. The surrounding window has been painted in a traditional Indian shape and style. This allows us a glimpse into the past and also the window of possibility that can be attained even while standing right where we are.
Gold has been used as it is a major part of eastern artworks and adds a traditional Chinese tone to the work. The tiny diamantes have been added to highlight the sparkle of the water, as this is the major element and theme of the painting that brings cohesion to the other individual elements.