Sarah Walker on Shiva Vishvarupa

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Sarah Walker considers a painting of Shiva Vishvarupa from the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art.

Walker writes: "Before I can grasp it with my mind, this painting has already saturated and immobilized me. What am I looking at? Not so much a painting as a force. Before me is a medium-sized vertical rectangle with what seems like a figure (that would be Shiva). At first I only know this by his head in the iconic center two-thirds the way to the top… though to focus here is impossible as the face drops into the painting like a stone into water sending out waves of imagery to the painting’s edge. This is not the usual visual tour signposted by the kind of composition I am used to experiencing from paintings. It is a challenge not to get atomized and redistributed into the field, which I’m feeling could well be the painting’s stealth function."

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