Rato Mato – Red Earth

Installation Siddhartha Art Gallery Kathmandu 1999

Rato Mato-Red Earth is an installation of sculpture, drawings and digital artworks that captures the beauty and spirituality of red earth. Jyoti uses clay from Nepal and the United States long sacred to both Native Americans and the Nepali people. In his work, environmental and cultural ideas come together as the artist conveys the material’s full range of artistic possibilities.

Jyoti’s digital artworks, titled Earth-Tree, evoke a lingam that seems to dissolve and reappear in glowing light. They are based on an environmental installation that the artist created by attaching red clay, brown eggs shells and fishing line to a tree. After photographing this work, he scanned the photo into a computer and created WebMotion, animated images. WebMotion, coined by the artist, is a new genre of art that transcends traditional, static painting. Each WebMotion contains many individual artworks that are layered in sequence to capture time and movement. This allows Jyoti to preserve each stage of the artistic process, which would otherwise be lost in a finished painting or drawing.

Three sculptures, made from found materials, are painted with red clay from different locations. One contains American river, lake and ocean sands. A lingam, modeled from clay, sits in the center. The other sculptures hold Nepali grains and oil-producing seeds. The color and texture of these important valley crops define the works’ mandala shape.

The drawings, abstract compositions inspired by Tantric imagery as well as the art of Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals, are drawn with different colors of red earth from the United States and Nepal.

Rato Mato represents the continued importance of red earth for art and rituals all over the world, beginning with prehistoric cave paintings. Using both digital technology and primal materials, Rato-Mato is a metaphor used by the artist to reflect our universal cultural heritage and unity with the earth.