The Universal Society of Hinduism is calling for the withdrawal of an art exhibit in Sydney over a piece that reportedly depicts the Hindu deity Krishna with a meth pipe.

The exhibit at ESD Gallery, by artist Leon Fernandes, is called 'Krishna In Erskineville' and is a series of embroidered works that "cheekily represent some of the issues around ethnicity, religion, sexuality and drug use".


The Mardi Gras website describes the work as follows:

"Krishna is the Hindu god of love, sex, knowledge and beauty smoking a pipe outside the Imperial Hotel, Erskineville. He is a God-child, a prankster, a model lover, and a divine hero. The work also reflects the artist’s mixed heritage – a colourful Indian culture contrasted against an Australian one that is comparatively prosaic. The pieces are created with a hybrid of machine-based embroidery, embedded directly into traditional paint on canvas."

President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, issued a statement today saying that the work "trivialised" the depictions of Krishna, who is highly revered in Hinduism, alongside other deities such as Ganesh and Durga.

Zed said that while Hinduism is supportive of free speech, he would like artists to be sensitive of how these depictions impact people who practice Hinduism.

The ESD Gallery is located at East Sydney Doctors, a medical clinic in Erskineville. The show opened on the 21st of February and runs until March 20th.