21.3.10

TANTRA at Feature

Portrait of Kali, 2007, 13 x 10.125 inches, paint on found paper

The Birth of Speech, 2008, 11.5 x 9.375 inches, paint on found paper

The Goddess at Her Center, 2008, 12.75 x 9.75 inches, paint on found paper

Divine Love, 1990, 12.375 x 10.675 inches, paint on found paper

The World's Two Poles United, 2000, 11.75 x 8.75 inches, paint on found paper

The Paw of Time, 2009, 11 x 10 inches, paint on found paper

Dance of Energy, 2008, 13.75 x 9 inches, paint on found paper

Tantra: Anonymous Paintings on Paper is a remarkable exhibition at Feature Inc. through March 27. It presents thirteen small paintings on paper from the Rajasthan region of northern India. They are all contemporary works, made by anonymous painters who are practitioners of tantraism, and each image embodies some specific essential aspect of the vast spiritual and philosophical practice of Tantra. The images and colors are part of a centuries old, highly codified didactic ritual -- but nevertheless, resonate as a form of poetic abstraction that is most seductive. My first encounter with this tradition was in 1975 when I was in grad school at Columbia, and came across a beautiful book of these images (Yoga Art by Ajit Mookerjee) in the Columbia book store. Not only was I mesmerized, returning day after day to look at the book (since I couldn't afford to buy it), but my work was profoundly affected by the connection between ontological or existential states and abstract form embodied in these works -- not to mention the sheer beauty and simplicity of the paintings.