Castles in the Sky, 2009, 4×5 ft, oil on canvas
I have been able to visit many places in the country over the course of the many years that I have lived in India. During the course of my travels I realised that you could find an old castle with a long history almost everywhere. Most of these castles are very beautiful but many are crumbling. As I looked at these castles a thought occurred to me. Each of these castles were the realisation of someone’s dreams, built to last. In reality, however, nothing lasts, not dreams, not wealth, not paintings, and not life.
All these thoughts combined in my mind to inspire me to make this painting. It is a collection of different Indian castles forming one balanced whole. As I had done before in my Masquerade Collection, this collection of castles leads to nowhere, staircases stop mid-air, doors open into nothing, hallways twist and turn. In some windows you can see people who wonder what they are doing there, are they coming or going, they do not know.
This painting is about dreams and the wishes that people have, the impermanence of everything.
It was very difficult to visualise and execute this painting. Advanced perspective had to be used in a special way to combine all the castles and give the feeling of one whole. Of all the dreams combined together.
In the middle of the painting there is a protruding structure, like a beak. The beak demands viewers’ attention. It is like a hungry baby bird, wanting more and more as castles rise up from below like space rockets taking off.
This painting is meant to be looked at endlessly. It is like a maze, warm and inviting, one big fantasy. Just like this world of ours is.
What happened to the painting after I completed it is very ironical. The buyer who bought this painting took it home but never sent the check for the payment. Later his brother murdered him but his descendants refused to return the painting or to pay for it. They want me to prove that the buyer had not paid me! That is difficult to do, of course, you can prove a payment was made but not when a payment was not done like in this case. So this is the whole story of the painting “Castles in the Sky” from beginning to end.