A journey of art in nomadic life

From the “Memoirs of a life well lived.” By Gopi Bhava Das, AKA Mark Chatburn


I first drew the original six pictures almost thirty-years ago, in 1992, while living for a few weeks in Cadaquez in Spain, the artistic home of Salvador Dali, the famous Surrealist, where I slept rough in a cave on a nudist beach at the edge of town. I was a young, wild, hippy, traveler-type, seeking adventure.

The first picture here is called “She Who Cries.” It was the first of these six pictures that I am now recreating in paint, in acrylic, adapted and renovated to reflect my present moods and mellows. She Who Cries reflects the hopes and aspirations of a woman who is caught between her life’s dreams and the world she perceives around her; as her cat-like mouth lies to herself and the world due to the inconsistencies she sees and feels.

27 x 32 cm, pen, pencil and water crayons on paper

The second drawing is called “Café Tao,” as the bar where I drew it was of that name. It was at the edge of that Bohemian artsy-farts town, Cadaquez, in a little alternative space even more aloof and estranged than the former “artistic paradise.” In this smoke-filled bar was the feeling of a nineteenth century Paris Commune with absinthe, opium, marijuana and strange conversations between even-stranger characters; a dream-space, a ghost-town, wherein sat a young artist drawing the dreams he saw in his over-active imagination.

27 x 32 cm,  pen, pencil and water crayons on paper

Although, thirty years later, I have experienced an infinity of life, love and tragedy in equal measures, fascinatingly gracing my shores, and while my false ego has been shattered and rebuilt anew and purified by the fire of living a loved-life, my true self, that indomitable spirit soul which is me, my I, stands determined with resolute action to not allow the bitter-sweet taste of tragic love to wane and wither my resolve, as the autumn leaves of my life fall and the cold winter sets in.

She Who Cries now stands tall in multicoloured delight as She Who Lives by Faith and Hope, and the darkness of the distressed state of a tragically-loved life bursts forth in colourful and dynamic Naif Abstract Realism, providing the viewer, neigh, the admirer, a glimpse of that indomitable spirit that resides in us all; it being who we truly are.

53 x 72 cm, Acrylic on Canvas

Café Tao now becomes the Art Bar, where I found myself when I arrived in Changsha, China, in July 2019. Under the tutelage of Malin Lao Shi and the loving affections of Yana, this beautiful Chinese couple made my year-long stay in Changsha a delight to behold. The Art Bar painting reflects the same dreamy space of Café Tao, but now with more colour, warmed by the fire of the hearth of that heart of life that beats with the intensity that life demands of it. I am still that little devil, no longer Sky, now Gopi, holding the paper on which my mind draws its visions from my now lesser-active mind. On the right, I look back at myself and reflect on the tragedy-comedy of my life. The little devil still draws and paints its very own destiny while the Cat Woman still looks on with interest; and so many ghost-like figures fill the bar as they come and go in the dead of night and at the break of dawn. The empty wine bottles dance the Samba and the Rumba, and Yana and Malin smile to see one of their fruits of their endeavours shine forth in the brilliant colours of a painted manuscript.

53 x 72 cm, Acrylic on Canvas

I am Gopi, Gopi Bhava, and if only you could feel the mellows of that simple village girl’s heart which is that I; a sweet pubescent virgin with hopes and joys of a life beckoning her forth; innocence and gaiety; sweet nothings whispering to her in her open-to-the-world ears. Oh Gopi! It is to thee I surrender in the hopes you will take me into your friendship group where I too may mellow in your mood of divine sweetness.

Have you not passed an eternity dancing in the full-moon night, in that sweet-silver moonlight, with your dark-skinned lover? Have you not dreamt and then realized that mellow stream of appetizing affections, of which only the pure-at-heart may tenderly feel?

100 x 52 cm, Acrylic on Canvas

I too wish to be taken in your arms and shown the ways of those simple villagers whose sweet pastimes are sung in the four corners of the universe, where the longings for true beauty fill the spirit of their times.

The protagonist of this story Mark Chatburn (left) and Prof. Louis Wang (right) discuss modern system of education and the enlightenment of art on life.

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