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Reclining Blue Yogini
S2000-0003-001-0
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

In Reclining Blue Yogini, the images were treated with a religious element essential as a picturesque motif, a foil for imagination taken from the stone relief of Vishnu Anantasyana, where God Vishnu reclines on the bed of serpent coils and his consort Goddess Laksmi supports and massages his right. Chandrasekaran’s Reclining Blue Yogini integrates Hindu iconography with the canonical tradition of reclining nudes in European art, specifically appropriating ’s Olympia to recontextualise the iconic Western nude by coding the image with allegorical allusions from his ethnic Indian heritage. Schematically, the titular blue yogini assumes the pose of Manet’s reclining nude, while the figure at her feet takes the place of the African servant in Manet’s painting. Cast as a yogini – traditionally a female sorcerer or demon in Hindu mythology – the female nude in Chandrasekaran’s painting assumes abstract and symbolic meaning as a representation of the forces of fertility, illness and death. More commonly associated with the blue deity Krishna, the lotus that emanates from the yogini’s navel bears allusions to divine birth in Hindu iconography. The lotus is also a symbol of sexuality.

History of the Object
A graduate of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Chandrasekaran emerged in the late 1980s as part of a multi-racial trio who staged Trimurti, an exhibition important for incorporating conceptual, performance and installation art forms to examine their respective ethnic and religious roots. ’s self-assured nude is a departure from the classical tradition of allegorical nudes that served to mask the sexual gaze and appease moral and religious values in Renaissance Europe. Olympia was controversial in its time for portraying a real-life female whose overt and confident display of her sexuality ruffled moral feathers. Chandrasekaran’s painting returns the nude to its allegorical tradition but with contemporary feminist inflexion. His nude yogini represents a feminine principle at once mysterious, primal and empowered.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Oil on canvas 
Measurements
Width 120 cm Length 212 cm  
Creator name
S. Chandrasekaran 
Creator date
1959 
Where it was made
Singapore 
Geography
Singapore 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1993 
Function
An artwork 
Acquisition
Purchased by NUS Museum from the artist. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
NUS Museum, NUS Centre For the Arts 
Museum
NUS Museum, NUS Centre For the Arts 
Credit line
 

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