Since 1991 Sri Chinmoy has drawn nearly 16,000,000 soul-bird drawings
Sri Chinmoy has also completed nearly sixteen million bird drawings begun on 29 December 1991 in Malta. They are lyrical studies of soul-birds hovering alone or in harmonious groups in an inner sky. Using a wealth of coloured pens and markers and with just a few deft movements, Sri Chinmoy sketches full-bodied images rich in vigour, personality and charm. The ink strokes are those of a master hand, delicate yet confident, spontaneous yet substantive. They are a flickering combination of convex and concave marks, a pure language that rolls off the pen with ease.
Despite his speed and economy of line, Sri Chinmoy always maintains the integrity and balance of each form. As with the Zen monk painters, the moment of insight is rapidly brushed and never retouched. He does not strive for representational detail, but rather for the essence of the aspiring consciousness of the soul. The space the birds inhabit is psychic, not physical.
Sri Chinmoy alludes to the soul not only in his art work, but also in his writings. It is the soul of man that connects the finite self with the infinite Self, the mortal with the immortal, the earthly with the divine. For millennia the bird image has appeared in both Eastern and Western art as Heaven-sent, as the muse of inspiration and as the link between the celestial and terrestrial realms.
Also featured are intricate mosaics of minute and gently coloured birds numbering nearly 100,000 in a single work. These avian landscapes recall the concentrated patience and intensity of ancient religious manuscripts and be-jewelled, polyphonic paintings. As sacred prayer panels, they are a portal into the inner creative source, self-generating and self-sustaining. Each bird sounds a note simultaneously in an orchestral outpouring. They are the infinite symphony of the soul that awakens the eternal cry for freedom in each human heart.
On 9 June 2005, Sri Chinmoy embarked on a new style of soul-bird drawings that incorporated broader, more fluid colours, by using a special marker with an ink reservoir activated on impact. By August 15th, he had completed 300 works of art totalling 7,305 birds on 9” by 12” Canson™ watercolour paper. He completed an additional 1,000 paintings in Malaysia and New York, several hundred of which were on display at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris in June 2006. He continued this particular style of soul-bird drawings in tandem with his abstract works until his passing.
“Birds have a very special significance; they embody freedom. We see a bird flying in the sky, and it reminds us of our own inner freedom. Inside each of us there is an inner existence we call the soul. The soul, like a bird, flies in the sky of Infinity. The birds we see flying in the sky remind us of our own soul-bird flying in the sky of Infinity. While looking at the birds, feel that you yourself are a bird; you are your soul-bird flying in the sky of infinite Light, infinite Peace and infinite Bliss.” – Sri Chinmoy