Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Walk With Ganesh

by Gregg Chadwick

Gregg Chadwick
A Walk With Ganesh
72"x84" oil on linen 2005

Recently during an extended visit in Thailand, I toured the elephant parks in the mountains north of Chiang Mai.
Each day the elephants are brought down to the river and bathed.

As I watched these daily baths, I knew that I needed to paint these moments- the elephants, the mahouts, the river, the water, the light, the color, the heat and the air.

Ganesh- (in the Hindu pantheon, known as a remover of obstacles) provided an apt title.

"Blind Men and Elephant"
from the Hokusai manga series ("Random Sketches"), 
volume VIII, Pages 13,14

After viewing "A Walk With Ganesh", Julie Weiss brought in a treasured book on the Japanese artist Hokusai opened to Hokusai's manga -"Blind Men and Elephant". This image wonderfully illustrates Buddha's parable:

Once, a group of blind men, who generally got about by holding on to each other as they cautiously shuffled through the countryside, came upon an elephant.

The first man, feeling the enormous leg, said, "This thing is very like a tree."

The second, standing near its ear reached up and said, "This is a winnowing fan!"

"No," said a third as he grasped the moving trunk. "Be careful. This is a creature belonging to the serpent family."

"I disagree," said a voice at the other end. "It is only a frayed piece of rope".

"You are all wrong. I have felt this thing on both sides. It is nothing more than a wall."

When the Buddha was staying near Shravasti, he retold this parable to try and get a group of ascetics living nearby to quit arguing. Each one was maintaining that he was the only right one and that everyone else was wrong. The Buddha declared that they were only disputing among themselves out of ignorance.

Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
"Taishun, hoeing a field with the help of elephants"
9" x 13 1/2" Woodblock Print c.1840

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