Exhibitions

Tantra Song: Contemporary Tantric Paintings from Rajasthan

Project Room 2 Sep 10–Dec 10, 2011

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Tantra Song: Contemporary Tantric Paintings from Rajasthan
Sep 10–Dec 10, 2011

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SMMoA_TantraSong_-(8)
TantraSong18_onweb
Anonymous, Bikaner, 2002, 14 x 10 inches, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy Franck André Jamme, Paris
TantraSong11_on-web
Anonymous, Sanganer, 2001, 9.25 x 11.75 inches, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy Franck André Jamme, Paris
TantraSong6_onweb
Anonymous, Near Jaipur 1, 1998, 13.5 x 8.75 inches, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy Franck André Jamme, Paris
SMMoA_TantraSong_-(2)
TantraSong7_onweb
Anonymous, Near Jaipur 2, 1998, 13.5 x 8.75 inches, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy Franck André Jamme, Paris
TantraSong10_onweb
Anonymous, Jaiper, 1995, 12.75 x 8.5 inches, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy Franck André Jamme, Paris
Tantra Song3_onweb
Anonymous, Jodphur, 2008, 13.5 x 9 inches, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy Franck André Jamme, Paris

Tantra Song: Contemporary Tantric Paintings from Rajasthan is a collection of thirty-nine anonymous works from India, made from 1985 to 2009. The process of painting these works is part of a spiritual practice, and the paintings themselves have specific qualities to guide private meditation. Made in tempera, gouache, and watercolor on salvaged paper, they are pinned up and anointed for use as spiritual objects, then discarded once aged and faded.

This rare lineage of Tantric art evolved from seventeenth-century, hand-written and illustrated religious treatises, which were copied over many generations. The contemporary result is a distinct visual lexicon used to awaken heightened states of consciousness. The paintings include a range of familiar geometric forms, each imbued with spiritual meaning: spirals and arrows for energy; inverted triangles for the goddess Shakti; and ovals for the god Shiva. Though deeply symbolic, the formal compositions of these works share a great affinity with twentieth-century abstract art. East and West, spiritual and aesthetic, ancient and modern all converge in this exhibition.

All works in Tantra Song are featured in an eponymous volume edited and with writings by the French poet Franck André Jamme, an introduction by Lawrence Rinder, an essay by André Padoux, and an interview by Bill Berkson.