Moments before Death is an exhibition currently on until the 21 August at the Artbox Gallery in Pretoria. There are 4 artists featured in the exhibition – Will Roux, Nellien Brewer, Mia van Wyk, and Poorvi Bhana.
In interpreting the theme ‘moments before death’, the artists examine the fragility of life and the fact that we often take time for granted assuming that we will always have plenty of it. The ‘moments’ refered to here could be extended to mean hours, days or months. Poorvi Bhana is a prize winning ceramicist and trained Indian classical musician who plays the sitar. Her frequent travels to India and her interest in Buddhism and Zen philosophy influence the art that she makes.
Bhana’s installation Samsara, comprises numerous small terracotta pots on a grey background that is decorated with intricate patterns reminiscent of ‘rangoli’ or mandala patterns. The unglazed pots resemble the clay vessels used in Hindu rituals that mark all auspicious occasions like birth and death.
In 8 Basic Objects/ asta agrya karma Bhana ceremoniously places delicate ceramic bowls on an ornately patterned board. The title could refer to the 8 types of Karma that some scriptures describe. Karma is the law of moral causation- a belief that a persons thoughts, actions and deeds will determine what happens to him in this life and the next.
Samsara or the cycle of birth and rebirth is linked to the existence of Karma in Hindism and Buddhism. The only escape from this cycle is to achieve Nirvana/ Moksha through leading a moral life, forgoing ego and attaining spiritual enlightenment.
Bhana’s artworks here link these beliefs about death and the importance of using the time we have to lead meaningful and spiritually aware lives.