From The Face of Kali ~ L. Caruana 2004
Digital Reworking from Oils in Quintessential medium



       This is a detail from my painting The Face of Kali, which I decided to isolate because I think the image captures Kali's equanimity ~ her calm acceptance of both joy and suffering, which forever cycle through Time (kala) in the illusory round of death and rebirth.

       Usually Kali is depicted with a fierce aspect. But I wanted her closed eyes and gentle smile to express the calm acceptance of life's cruelty and kindness. She is also depicted as black, but I wanted to give her a golden and radiant aspect. Otherwise, I've tried to respect much of her traditional iconography.


      Crowned and jewelled, Kali is depicted here with four arms.

      In one hand she holds the serpent-entwined staff topped with a skull - indicating her mastery over death and rebirth. In another hand she holds a sword with a handle in the form of a varja thunderbolt ~ it brings death but also enlightenment. Her lower right hand is held in the varada gesture of 'fear not' while her lower left hand is in the abhaya gesture of 'giving'. This is to say, do not fear death or temptation, for the goddess may take away but she also gives in abundance.
      From her shoulders falls a garland of skulls. These enchained symbols of death indicate the endless cycle of re-incarnation. Meanwhile, over her womb, two serpents entwine like a caduceus (a motif which I drew from a Hindu temple). Once more, we are met with a symbol of regeneration and rebirth.
      At her feet is the Kali yantra (meditative design) of five inverted triangles set into a lotus flower. It invites us to meditate upon the passage through her sex, and the on-going cycle of death and rebirth. (Although Kali obscures her sex with her heel, this triangular yantra symbolically reveals the essence of that which is hidden).


      The painting from which this detail is taken ~ The Face of Kali ~ required many layers. Here are just three: the original drawing on the prepared wooden panel, the underpainting in burnt umber, and the finished figure. 

      More progress shots can be seen on the page dedicated to The Face of Kali.


      This version was painted for The Interdimensional Art Tour (San Francisco, Montreal, Seattle, Eugene) in May of 2009. The artist David Heskin saw it hanging alongside his own work, and commented that he was thrilled by it. 

      In May of 2013, David Heskin and Aloria Weaver invited me to participate in their Art Spirit Now event in Boulder Colorado. We spent a wonderful two weeks together at their Luminous Flux Gallery & Studio. In gratitude, I left them this painting as a gift. David Heskin has also left me a couple of paintings over the years, for which I'm very grateful... 


Email: visionnaire@lcaruana.com