Buddha Gallery — Peaceful Vajrapani

One day, sitting and imagining a rainbow of jewel like historical and archetypal Bodhisattvas filling the sky, one figure shone out like a blue sapphire, vivid and luminous and brighter than the other figures.

Painting: Peaceful Vajrapani

Peaceful Vajrapani (1996)
Detail of life-size face
Acrylic on paper

A friend lent me a print of one the few known images of Peaceful Vajrapani. I based my sketchbook study on this ancient Indian painting. It showed a figure sitting in the posture of royal ease holding a vajra to his heart. I felt moved by the image of embodiment of peaceful energy, still and at ease, yet full of power.

Sketch: Peaceful Vajrapani

Peaceful Vajrapani
Sketchbook study (1995)
Crayon, pencils and wash
20 x 29cm

At midsummer the following year I continued my exploration at St Ives Cornwall where I painted a life size version of the figure from my earlier sketch. Painters love St Ives for the bright white quality of light. The light there doubles in intensity as it reflects off the vast mirror of the sea and refracts into rainbow mist. The bright light and the June heat found their way into the painting and the aura of red and gold around the figure became brighter and brighter as the image took form.

Painting: Peaceful Vajrapani

Peaceful Vajrapani I (1996)
Acrylic on paper
100cm x 140cm
High Quality download/Print

Whilst in Cornwall we visited Patrick Heron. Always generous with his time and keen to share his Eagle’s Nest and his many paintings displayed there, Pat took us on the customary tour, and told us, as usual, of his love of French painters and their influence on his work. He particularly admired Matisse. I trace Pat’s influence in my Vajrapani painting and regret that my awe of him at the time meant that I was too shy to show it to him. I see how he helped my use of colour, and influenced the formal spatial structure and relationship of forms to the edges of the paper.

The painting of Looe Bar (see also the Landscapes page) was painted in the same year. It is also a large studio painting and is derived from a small study made “in the field”. The picture captures the extraordinary Cornish light.

Painting: Looe Bar, Cornwall

Looe Bar, Cornwall (1996)
Acrylic on Paper
135cm x 95cm

The two paintings shown above are variations on a theme. The subject is the strong peaceful energy of Vajrapani. This energy is fully embodied in the un-moving seated figure. The still broad expanse of luminous water in the landscape painting is another visual metaphor for sensed experience of this vast peaceful energy.

Painting: Peaceful Vajrapani

Peaceful Vajrapani (2001)
Acrylic on canvas
40cm x 70cm

In the later painting shown here (2001) I am exploring the spatial paradox of painting a dark blue figure as subject: the dark blue melts back into deep space and the viewer may not at first see the figure. This painting explores pictorial space, and by extension the inner space of the mind.