Tantric Painting from Rajasthan
Anonymous practitioners of Tantrism in Rajasthan, India commonly known as tantrikas, executed the twelve small paintings exhibited here on pieces of found paper. The paintings date from 2001 to 2014, yet the images themselves are of forms that emerged from religious texts, Tantric Treatises, from the 17th century. The artists of these painting are in fact evolved spiritual practitioners; they do not see themselves as artists, but rather as agents of their rites and meditations. By virtue of the Tantra, they see the universe and all of its components as divine energy and transpose this through painting as a spiritual experience.
The Tantra works are invocations. Most westerners will immediately cue codes of modernism, likening the geometric forms to Malevich or the strict elements of reduction to Agnes Martin. But the works present an anonymity that assumes wholeness: an assuredness of imagery that distinctively contrasts the Western palette. They are not intended for the sake of artistic pursuit; rather, they are the raw ascetic tools of an ancient practice. As such, each painting radiates its own deified universe in the confines of space and form. Finally, their unique existence re-examines Western timelines and questions the established contemporary notions of the ‘genius artist.’
Franck André Jamme, a contemporary French poet and specialist in Tantric, Art Brut and Indian tribal art, began discovering the rare works in the midst of the 1980’s. Today, he remains the mediator between the tantra paintings and outside communities. First presented in exhibitions in Paris at Magiciens de la Terre, Centre Pompidou, (1989), Fondation Cartier and Galerie du Jour/agnés b. (1994), then in 1998, at Feature Inc., New York, The California College of the Arts, San Francisco (1999) and The Drawing Center, New York (2004). With the late Hudson, of Feature Inc., Jamme collaborated on the shows Shiva Linga (2007), and Anonymous Tantra Paintings (2010 and 2012). Most recently, a collection of Shiva Linga paintings was included in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).