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Adi Da's Early Art:
An Online Exhibition


Self Portrait: Brush and ink on paper

In October 1998, Avatar Adi Da Samraj began to focus on His artistic Work with great intensity. Having already created a very full written Teaching, He began to develop pre-verbal — artistic — means to picture the complex (and ultimately single) nature of Reality. The result was His Image-Art as we know it today.

That art was the culmination of artistic experiments Adi Da had been conducting throughout His lifetime:


These image-works are summary in nature — the products of more than sixty years of work of all kinds, just so that those images could be made to happen in their time.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj


Displayed below are some of Adi Da's early experiments.

Childhood Art
 
Adi Da's expression of art began as a child. Because His sister enjoyed all things French, Adi Da drew a painting on her bedroom wall in the manner of French post-impressionists like Toulouse-Lautrec.  
 

Adi Da: Childhood Art
Part of Adi Da's French-style painting
on the walls of His sister's room
(click picture for enlargement)


Part of Adi Da's French-style painting
on the walls of His sister's room

Transcendental Drawings
(brush and ink on paper, 1967-1982)
 
Adi Da's first major series of art works were His "Transcendental Drawings", a series of brush and ink sketches that He spontaneously created, primarily in the late 1960's. (He originally referred to these as "Transcendental Cartoons".)  
 


"Body Portrait 2"
Brush and ink on paper



"Woman in Mind" (1967)
brush and ink on paper
(click picture for enlargement)

 

The only way to solve the current world-situation is for everyone to "lose face" — instead of everyone demanding to "save face". All of humankind should, as a formalized collective, "lose face" together — by acknowledging that, unless human beings live in formally established and formally maintained cooperation and tolerance, they, inevitably, sink into grossly and universally destructive behavior. Only by everyone "losing face" together will the collective of human beings be able to regenerate the moral strength and authority that is necessary if human beings everywhere are to require cooperation and tolerance of each other.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Not-Two Is Peace


 
My Friends
"Losing Face"
Brush and ink on paper
(click picture for enlargement)
 

One of My “Transcendental Cartoons” is called “Losing Face”. It is Consciousness surrounded by Radiance, surrounded by objects. It is a picture of Reality. That is why it is called a Transcendental Cartoon.

The world is a transcendental cartoon on the Face of Consciousness Itself.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, March 29, 1998


 

Face of God
"the Face of Consciousness Itself"
(in image form, as described by Adi Da,
also known as "The Midnight Sun")

 


"He"
Brush and ink on paper



"She"
Brush and ink on paper

Quats
"Quats"
Brush and ink on paper


My Friends
"My Friends"
Brush and ink on paper

title unknown
title unknown
Brush and ink on paper

title unknown
title unknown
Brush and ink on paper


Fireplace (1971)

"Fireplace"
Brush and ink on paper (1971)
(click picture for enlargement)

 

Avatar Adi Da's brushwork displays, qualities valued in the Zen tradition: asymmetry, naturalness, tranquility, freedom of attachment, subtle profundity, and simplicity. Throughout East Asia, there has existed a tradition which understands calligraphy — and brush painting altogether — as an expression of the Spiritual Realization of the painter. Avatar Adi Da has said about His brushwork:


You may have noticed that My painting has a calligraphic quality. There is a quality to My brushstrokes that is similar to the calligraphy of China, Japan, and Korea. My brushstrokes are not merely about hand-eye coordination — My principal movements are a dance-like or calligraphic response to the apparent subject I am painting. Therefore, you could describe My Work as calligraphic, which means "beautiful writing".

Avatar Adi Da Samraj


The profound communication of Avatar Adi Da's “beautiful writing” was acknowledged by Jung-Kwang, an unconventional Korean Buddhist monk, artist, and calligrapher renowned for his mastery of brush painting. (For more, see The Mad Monk: Paintings of Unlimited Action By Jung-Kwang.) In the early 1980's, one of Avatar Adi Da's devotees, James Steinberg, visited Jung-Kwang. James explained, through a Korean interpreter, Who Avatar Adi Da is, describing His Divine Enlightenment. Jung-Kwang, who is also known as “the mad monk”, listened politely and agreeably.

"Zen Crane" by Jung-Kwang
"Zen Crane"
Jung-Kwang
(click picture for enlargement)

However, moments later, when James presented Jung-Kwang with a portfolio of Avatar Adi Da's ink paintings, His “beautiful writings”, the mad monk became ecstatic. Jung-Kwang laughed and ran around the room. He jubilantly placed the ink paintings on his head and on his heart, exclaiming with joy, “Now I know that what you are saying is true. The One Who made these drawings is clearly Enlightened! I could not tell by your words, but now I can. I have looked at the art of all the great Masters. This Man is Enlightened!”

 

Adi Da: Transcendental Drawing
"Self Portrait"
Brush and ink on paper
(click picture for enlargement)

 

Self Portrait
"Self Portrait"
Brush and ink on paper

 

From "The Paradox of Entanglement", January 11, 1996:


ADI DA (describing the subjects of His paintings): I don't tell people to fix themselves in a position or in an attitude or an expression, any of that. I want them to be completely self-revealing, natural, spontaneous. And so, perhaps sometimes somebody might lie down, even though they even move there. But, generally, I just tell them to move about and do so obliviously. You don't have to constantly do object-directed specific kind of things. Just let the body exist in space freely. Have the attitude of it being that way, instead of moving the body into conventional mudras, functional adaptations. So in other words, I like for the subject to be as free as the process itself, or at least participate in that. So I don't study them in My regard, such that they have to be in a fixed position, all the while. No, they move in every kind of way. My regard is just at that moment, and now this moment. It accounts for this entire, free display in a summary moment of Recognizing it in its totality.

So I generally do these paintings rather quickly. At least any major aspect of it is done quickly. . . .

In fact I guess that's maybe why they were called "Transcendental Cartoons", images I would make with people who happened to be around Me at the moment. I did them in a way that was amusing because when you look back, you do see a lot of the likenesses of body parts and some of the generalized likeness of something you can recognize somehow as related to the individual. But these things would be apparently very chaotically associated with one another, and produce amusing conjunctions. They look a little nutty, or mad, and so forth. But generally this kind of work that I've been describing to you is done differently, such that there is not much recognizable about it, at least often there isnt much ability on the part of you looking at it later, or picking out the body parts in silly conjunctions. It doesn't resemble them that way. And it's not intended to be funny.

DEVOTEE: Were some of them funny, though?

ADI DA: Well, yes, as I was just describing. I didn't add funniness to it, but that way of doing it inevitably produced something that was amusing because the likeness was shifted around in odd conjunctions. Just approaching it that way makes something that is typically funny, or oddly plastic.


 

Adi Da revisited this form of His art in 2007, creating new brush and ink drawings:

Adi Da: Brush and Ink
Brush and ink on paper
(click picture for enlargement)

and, in particular, the series of brush and ink works He called "Linead" paintings.


"Lot 16": Linead Painting (2007)


Adi Da creating one of His Linead paintings
Adi Da creating one of
His Linead brush and ink paintings (2007)

This style would also work its way into His Image-Art as elements of larger composites, as in the works below.


The Spiritual Descent of The Bicycle Becomes the Second-Birth of Flight:
Part Twelve - II, 4

2007, 2010


Childish Conrad and The Evil Thumb-Tailor,
Childish Conrad and The Evil Thumb-Tailor,
or, The Boogeyman Always Bobs Both
(It Is Your Fear What Takes The Life Out Of You,
Because The Mind Always Deceives The Body), 12,

from The Struwwelpeter Suite (The ego-"I" and The Straightener):
Contemplating The Mind/Body Problem
and The Bodily Illusion Of Being a Separate "self",
Part Six
, 2008

Childish Conrad and The Evil Thumb-Tailor, or, The Boogeyman Always Bobs Both
Childish Conrad and The Evil Thumb-Tailor,
or, The Boogeyman Always Bobs Both
(It Is Your Fear What Takes The Life Out Of You,
Because The Mind Always Deceives The Body)

(click picture for enlargement)

 
"She" Paintings
(liquid acrylic paint and oil bar on paper, 1994)
 

Adi Da: "She" Painting
"She" Painting, 1994.
Liquid acrylic paint and oilbar on paper.
(click picture for enlargement)


Adi Da: "She" Painting
"She" Painting, 1994.
Liquid acrylic paint and oilbar on paper.

Adi Da: "She" Painting
"She" Painting, 1994.
Liquid acrylic paint and oilbar on paper.
(click picture for enlargement)


Adi Da Samraj Signing One of His She Paintings, 1998
Adi Da Samraj Signing One of His "She" Paintings, 1998.


Adi Da Samraj Signing One of His She Paintings, 1998
Adi Da Samraj Signing One of His "She" Paintings, 1998.

Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
© Copyrighted materials used with the permission of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. None of these materials may be disseminated or otherwise used for any non-personal purpose without the prior agreement of the copyright owner. ADIDAM is a trademark of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as Trustee for the Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

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