Female Lion Spirit (1992)
This painting is on a theme that I have explored before but with a different expression. In a previous artwork, I had painted a leopard with a woman’s spirit. That artwork was painted for the Mumbai exhibition.
In this painting, the symbolism is very different. In a lion pride, it is the females who do most of the work such as hunting, feeding, and looking after the cubs. The lionesses multitask, almost like human females. The male lions look gorgeous, handsome, ferocious, and command attention. The surprise is that lions have a good life compared to the lionesses who work harder. The males usually just lay around and are served; occasionally roaring to frighten off or chase intrudes away.
Inside this painted lioness is a female spirit who questions the life allotted to her. She is concerned about where life is going. The lioness does not know, but the female spirit knows lives are going to change!
The concept of the female lion and spirit goes back to the middle ages. Lions were considered the kings of the jungle then. Now humans are the kings of the jungle. Lions have to run for their lives. They have to be protected in this time and each age. Just like the lions who were kings in the jungle, humans can, however, also fade in importance with time.
The background in this painting is quite magical. It is like a small paradise where everything is a kind of surreal world of surprises. There are strange things that do not really look the way that they should. I brought this aspect in to this painting to emphasise that there are many ways to look at life. We have so many expectations and fantasies about what is going to happen in life but what actually occurs may be very different.
When I was painting this artwork, I was fascinated with medieval art. The symbolism of spirits, magic and alternative pagan influences can be found in art from the period.
This painting is about time, change, expectation, and surprise.
My mother, who is a tapestry weaver, really liked this painting. She made a beautiful tapestry based on it that is just the same size as the original. It is included here.