The Emergence of Spirit and Matter, from the Shiva Purana, circa 1828. Photograph: Mehrangarh Museum Trust
The exhibition “Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur” was a real treat, although I came quite late and therefore did not have enough time to see it all. I bought the catalogue though. Many of the paintings are really stunning. I love the tryptichs like the one above “The Emergence of Spirit and Matter from the Shiva Purana.” The first panel – the world before creation is just a square of gold – pure abstraction, predating Western abstract art by several centuries. [note d’Eric: non ! Semble peint en 1828]. Another one showed the “Cosmic Oceans” – just abstract silver swirls.
Yves Klein on Gold
“The gold of the ancient alchemists can actually be extracted from everything. But what is difficult is to discover the gift that is the philosopher’s stone and that exists in each of us” (Y. Klein quoted in Yves Klein: A Retrospective, Nice, 2000).
Gold was part of Yves Klein’s sacred triumvirate of colors, along with blue and rose. “All three live in one and the same state, each impregnated in the other, all being perfectly independent, one from the other” (Klein quoted in S. Stich, Yves Klein, Stuttgart, 1994, p. 194).
Klein’s work revolved around a Zen-influenced concept he came to describe as “le Vide” or in English: the Void. Klein’s Void is a nirvana-like state that is void of worldly influences; a neutral zone where one is inspired to pay attention to one’s own sensibilities, and to “reality” as opposed to “representation”.
In 1959, Klein extended his monochrome painting to include gold panels. For Klein, blue was a color of deep spiritual resonance, and this blue had the power and sense of the infinite of the void. For Klein, Gold was a symbol of timeless purity, it was the immaterial, it was the ability to cross the boundary between the material and the immaterial worlds and it asserted this principle of a material transforming itself into something spiritual.