Agnes Arellano Sculptor

Body and Soul


“The gods are neither lewd nor prudish. Such notions are human”
–R. Rai/ L. Frederic, “Khajuraho“

My new work, a series of erotological sketches in relief, is the visual component of a field research done in 2008 on the erotic temples in Khajuraho, Central India. In previous investigations into pre-Christian beliefs and practices, I had run into Konarak and Khajuraho and had been passionately drawn to Alan Watts’ essay “Erotic Spirituality: The Vision of Konarak” (1971) while a “A Tender Moment”, the central image in my Temple of the Sun God (1990) was a maithuna couple.

Khajuraho was once the holy city of the rajahs of the Chandella Dynasty, whose founder was “born of the moon”. It was a religious capital as prestigious as Varanasi. Built around the 10th century A.D., there are more than a dozen separate small temples whose exteriors are embellished with erotic imagery.

I worked from photographs taken by my partner Billy from way below looking up, the extreme perspective of which resulted in a contorted view. Focusing on the body’s curves and convolutions, I then cropped off the nonessentials and enclosed the extreme close-ups in the shape of church windows, with either a gothic or a romanesque arch. Among the multitude of couples copulating, one spots a tender embrace, a loving glance, or somewhere at the top, a few panels of acrobatic positions, yogi and yogini adepts in the act and art of making love.

“Their love-making is a sort of ritual dance. Our difficulty in understanding this is the feeling that the combination of worship and sex is like water and fire: so religion is blasphemed and lust is quenched by solemnity.”
– A. Watts, “Erotic Spirituality: The Vision of Konarak”