Calling himself a “spiritual pop! artist” Pan Trinity Das of Ojai, California, paints street murals and designs bhakti-themed installations for festivals in the U.S. and India. We asked him to give us a glimpse into his life as an artist, and how he expresses his practice through paint.
Yoga Journal: What is Spiritual Pop! Art?
Pan Trinity Das: Pop art has been around for a long time and I’m certainly not trying to to reinvent the wheel, but by creating iconography in traditional pop art style I can represent the heroes and rockstars that matter to me within a modern and attractive context. I use “spiritual” in broadest sense of the word. Whether I’m portraying imagery of yantras, yoga masters, or nudes, I create content that brings me to a higher level of peace and tranquility, and hopeful others can feel that, too.
YJ: How do you choose your subjects?
PTD: A lot of the time I use painting as a way to research people. I love the process of diving into peoples lives and history, learning facts and stories. Choosing to paint someone is how I get to know them on a more intimate level.
YJ: Do you have a favorite painting that you’ve done?
PTD: In 2012, I took over the abandoned Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram in Rishikesh, India, and turned the lecturing hall into a renegade art gallery and called it, the ‘Beatles Cathedral Gallery.’ It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in India because The Beatles wrote The White Album here and the place is really inspiring.
It [was] set up like a “paint by numbers” so the whole community can participate. That’s the beauty of it: everyone can paint and have a good time, even if you’re four years old.
YJ: How does art reflect your yoga practice?
PTD: I have always felt a nonstop current of creativity flowing through me and it’s not something I’ve ever really taken credit for. The Sanskrit word “yoga” translates to “union,” and I think many artists feel a sense of union with a higher power when they’re in the studio working passionately on a project. Honestly, it’s how I get high—how I connect. To me a good painting is one that combines perfect execution and divine intervention or spontaneity.
YJ: You call yourself a bhakti yogi. What is your practice like?
PTD: I am firmly rooted in LOVE as my higher power. My spiritual practice has always been the worship and creation of beauty, and the archetype that I’ve always held in my heart was that of the sacred feminine. My ideal workout is biking at the gym, and doing yoga before and after. My body just stretches naturally and I feel so at home. Yoga for me is more of a personal space or sanctuary—I love being on the mat and putting intention and breath into my movements.
YJ: So you do murals (graffiti), paintings, and the occasional tattoo design. What’s your favorite medium?
PTD: Street art. It has the greatest impact and I LOVE the process of including everyone to help me in the process. It instills unity within the participants, beautifies communities and promotes positive and relevant messages in local areas.