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In Calcutta, India, the Hindu goddess, Kali, emerges on the first moonless night in October, wailing her seductive and powerful contrapuntal chorus of life and death. Breathing life into the crudely fashioned clay, straw, and bamboo statues of the deity and her companions, the Yoginis, a priest invokes the spirit of this dynamic goddess of creation and destruction.

Adorned and worshipped for several days, the festival or puja, concludes with the priest exhuming the spirit from the statue before it is taken to the Hooghly River, where turned three times, it is returned to the water. Fashioned from the elements by local craftsmen, these transitory statues bear within them their own dissolution, and the eternal cycle of life and death.

Stephen Livick photographs these statues, as well as the rich and ephemeral rituals associated with the Kali Puja, and its cyclical embrace of the acts of creation and annihilation. Visually attracted to the richly textural sunbaked mud walls, Livick positions the statues, taking multiple photographs, from which he later creates elaborate murals, one of which includes 972 separate images. With their disjunctures and ceaseless movement, the murals effectively and palpably share in the frenzied and generative energy that is Kali.

In the Yoginis as well, symbols of humanity's weaknesses, Livick reveals mankind's collective fear of the unknown. An abstract, primal fear that gripped Livick personally, he wrestled with these demons both emotionally and visually, producing a series of work that speaks to the constant tension between life and death, bound inexorably together in the human consciousness. Vision, emotion, and intellect merge for Livick.

Like the feminine principles represented in ancient goddess worship, his art is instinctive, informed from personal inspiration, dreams, and a commitment to his subconscious. It is an inner celebration of innocence and the desire to create. Like Kali, who is the primordial formlessness from which all creation begins, Livick's murals, in their fractured form, participate in the deity's eternal flux.

In his profound commitment to India, Livick found a dimension of life that extends beyond culture and religion to the very core of existence. In the fevered celebrations of Kali Puja, the people of Calcutta embrace the bittersweet dichotomy of life and death, Kali's creation and destruction prefiguring the cyclical nature of the karmic wheel. Striking and intense, the murals mark a culmination of Livick's visionary journey over the last decade, both inward and outward, participating in the elemental struggle of the human spirit, and the sacred and eternal dance of Kali.



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