Title : Gangga Nagara
Size : 183cm x 122cm
Medium : Acrylic and Airbrush on Canvas
Year : 2013
Written by : Elaine Loh
History…..the roots of our existence…our civilization, presents the form and destiny of our culture and evolution.
Bringing an intriguing twist to this series, Raja Lope takes us on a trip down memory lane…..to a time where once Gangga Negara stood tall and proud. Gangga Negara is a story close to the heart of Raja Lope, told through his ancestral lines and forms a tight bond with his father in understanding the history and roots of his Raja family line.
Gangga Negara is believed to be the lost legendary Hindu kingdom which is said to be centred around present-day town of Beruas, Perak. Gangga Negara, which translates to a city of Ganges in Sanskrit, was a kingdom under the reign of Raja hailing from India and recognizably to us, Ganges is a main sacred river in India. Interestingly so, Raja Lope shares with us his centuries old tale of Gangga Negara, where Gangga Negara was believed to be once an underwater kingdom.
Raising a world of starking possibilities, there lies some truth as the present-day Beruas has clear evidences of ancient artifacts with Indian influences in its local museum, supporting its age old glory and prominence. Interestingly so, Beruas is geographically surrounded by lakes, the nearby Malacca Straits and famed Perak River. What more, Raja Lope probes the story further by adding on the present-day fertile rich soil of Beruas, that makes it prime for agricultural pursuits.
Spellbinding, the viewer is welcomed by a mermaid-like creature emerging fantastically from the clouds towards the water. The mermaid-like creature performs the seemingly simple dive with unquestionable elegance, visually evidenced through the sensual movement of her graceful body and allure of the innocently pure lotus dance. Here again, Raja Lope draws us to the intricacies of his fantasy world, introducing us to a never-seen-before mermaid-like creature. This graceful creature presents itself to be half Indian girl and half fish, crossbred with features from ikan pari, ikan patin and ikan toman. The significance of the ikan toman as the king of freshwater fishes is the main attribute for Raja Lope’s prime choice, to accentuate the royal and pristine stature of the mermaid-like creature as the creature represents the glory of a kingdom past.
Reinforcing the Indian heritage present in his bloodline and hometown, one can clearly relate the Indian motives present on the fish tail as well as henna designs covering the body of the creature. Unmistakably, the gold jewelry present in the painting, visible nose ring and navel ring are commonly popular cultural traditions of our Indian counterparts.
The serenity and grace of this painting is starkingly clear, setting this apart from the series. Raja Lope elevates his art to another exemplary level, demonstrating his niche skills to bring about a mesmerizingly beautiful sensuality and elegance to this painting; truly an incomparable visual experience.
Truthfully, Raja Lope here further exhibits his ability not only to address the contemporary issues and cultures; but being able to bring the viewer back in time….to a glorious history that once was and in doing so, cultivates an undeniable pride of our very own Malaysian roots.