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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Kundalini: The Union of the Divine

Earlier this month, Ali Adil Khan invited me to the inaugural of an exhibition of the works of Youngo Verma (1938-2015). The exhibition Kundalini Union of the Divine is at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. In Canada, Youngo Verma remains largely unknown except amongst the South Asian community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Ali and Deepali Dewan of the Royal Ontario Museum have played an important role in getting recognition for Yongo’s art. 

(For earlier coverage on Youngo Verma in GAB, click here: Youngo Verma).

Ali, who is an art writer, in addition to be a curator, says in his introduction to the artist, “Youngo lived and worked in solitude in his Mississauga studio for over 30 years, creating a large body of work that examines and explores the notion of Tantra and its connection to Cosmic Energy.” About the exhibition, he says, “Kundalini: The Union of the Divine presents three distinct and important periods and genres of Youngo’s art. His early figurative drawings completed in Germany in the 1970s that remained with him until his death and have never been shown before. These remarkably innovative drawings explore the notion of duality, as it depicts alien human figures, grounded yet having wings, with vibrant forms of energy emanating from them.”

For the uninitiated yet interested, let me quote Jan Solis on Kundalini. Solis is an author who has written extensively about ancient Hindu practices. She says, “Kundalini refers to that dimension of energy within a human being that is yet to realize its potential. It is a yoga practice and those familiar with it characterize it as the energy that resides at the base of the spine, coiled like a snake and summoned to rise through the chakras to the crown chakra at the top of the head.

Kundalini yoga teachings have been influenced by Shakti and Tantra. Awakening of the kundalini energy is accomplished through regular performances of meditation, chanting mantra, pranayama (control over breath or life force), and yoga asana. Part of the purpose of kundalini practice is to raise your own level of awareness of your entire body. Among the many benefits, kundalini yoga is said to free us from our karma and to help us gain an understanding of our life’s purpose (dharma).”

Youngo’s work has gone through several phases, and the most evocative phase was about 15 years before his death, when he began drawing on graphite paper organic abstract forms representing cosmic energy. The most impressive of these geometric shapes depict Shakti, the female form. Often, there is little to differentiate between two drawings, but that miniscule variance is critical.

A pleasant surprise that evening was an impromptu dance performance by artist Asma Mahmood

Images: http://artgalleryofmississauga.com/YoungoVerma_web.pdf

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