Like many other artists of his day, Theo van Doesburg has a keen interest in theosophy. According to this religious philosophy, the perceptible, chaotic world is founded upon a divine or universal order. In this order, the relationship between humankind and the cosmos, between the earthly and higher things, the material and the spiritual is in perfect harmony. By leading a ‘spiritual’ life, people can become aware of this relationship and be at one with the cosmos.

Universal harmony

Van Doesburg believes that art should also express this universal harmony. He strives for a pure form of art, in which colour and shape are symbols of the inner realm. He takes his example from Indian art, in which colours and shapes are not used to imitate nature, but to express a spiritual state.

Krishna playing a flute

The dancers in this diptych are abstracted depictions of Krishna playing a flute. They are based on an Indian figurine of this Hindu deity. Van Doesburg shows the figure from two sides: from the front on the right panel and from behind on the left panel.