GANDHI BLUES I began this inquiry into Mahatma Gandhi's South African legacy because of his involvement with the sugar cane workers there. During his 21 years in South Africa Gandhi developed his identity as an activist and public figure working with indentured Indian workers. However, Gandhi did not start out as a bottom-up leader of the underclasses. His views of race, class, and caste published in his newsletter “India Opinion” were conservative and could be considered racist. Most of his time in South Africa Gandhi did not mix with low-caste Indians or Blacks. He sided actively against the Zulus in their fight for recognition in both the Boer, and Zulu wars.* The disappointment and anger I felt when learning this was the impetus that began the Gandhi Blues drawings. The drawings are a kind of visual record as I processed my feelings and reached an understanding of the arc of Gandhi’s life and influence. The drawings are all on paper, and range in size from 16 x 20” to 44 x 92”. Starting with gestural works using burnished black graphite and text, I later began using blue charcoal, human hair, and collaged South African flags. The blue charcoal has a depth and beauty that reminds be of Krishna paintings and International Klein Blue. This color, along with repeated drawing strokes creates a linear contemplative field. Hair has a particularly laden presence that launches itself into space and consciousness like few materials. When used traditionally, hair symbolizes and expedites the afterlife journey to the spirit world. I use hair to symbolize the human presence in Gandhi’s South Africa. From a social-political perspective Gandhi’s history is both problematic and seminal. The American Civil rights movements, the Occupy Movement, Spring, Gezi, Standing Man, any kind of non-violent civil disobedience used by a populist movement has a residue of Gandhi’s influence. (As I write this Guantanamo Bay prisoners are into the 100th day of a hunger fast). There is a ‘selective use’ of Gandhi’s protest methods used world wide.* The Satyagraha methods he evolved in South Africa (informed by Thoreau’s Passive Resistance strategies), were effective in organizing the Indian people to Independence. He left many examples of self sacrifice to a just cause. He linked self reliance, sustainable living, and public hygiene to social justice movements. Gandhi did eventually literally and figuratively walk the walk, and talk the talk. * This created a rift that for some has never healed. * Groups espousing more forceful resistance measures like India’s Naxalite movement, or even Malcolm X, are still responding to Gandhi’s position. * Satyagraha: Sanskrit; Satya: truth; Agraha: soul-force. Truth with Force. Michael Pribich 6-24-2013
 
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Gandhi Blues, 2013

44 x 92" overall, triptych, blue charcoal pencil on paper

 
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Black Gandhi, 2012

30 x 22", burnished graphite on paper

 
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Satyagraha, 2012

22 x 30", burnished graphite, colored pencil on paper

 
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Satyagraha, 2012

30 x 22", pencil, colored pencil on paper

 
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MLK Goes To The Land Of Gandhi

2012, 30 x 22", graphite on paper

 
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Black Gandhi, 2012

30 x 44" dipdych, burnished graphite on paper

 
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Gandhi, 2013

22 x 16", red bindi powder, South African Flag, colored human hair on paper

 
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Gandhi Blues, 2013

18 x 15", Blue charcoal pencil, human hair on paper

 
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Gandhi Blues, 2013

18 x 15", blue charcoal pencil on paper

 
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Gandhi Blues, 2013

44 x 61", dipdych, graphite, blue charcoal pencil, human hair on paper

 
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Blue Gandhi, 2013

60 x 40, dipdych, blue charcoal pencil on paper