Thinking Tantra

YTR 1, 2010

Shezad DawoodYTR 1, 2010Acrylic on vintage textile, 125 x 165 cm.



Thinking Tantra is a trans historical exhibition that begins with anonymous Tantric drawings, dating from the second half of the nineteenth century, continues with work made in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s by Indian artists and includes work by ten international contemporary artists, presented in roughly chronological order. 

The first group of works includes a range of 'original' Tantra drawings and Yantras. Tantra is a body of beliefs and practices that enables individuals to conjoin with something much larger than themselves— 'nothing short of cosmic forces’; a Yantra is geometrical diagram or object used as a tool in tantric rituals; meanwhile Mantra is a word, or series of words, syllables or sounds believed to have sacred spiritual power.

A small number of works from the so-called 'Neo-Tantra' movement are brought together in the second group. These are artists who either practiced Tantric rituals or customs, were part of the Neo-Tantra movement, or appreciated Tantra as a socially relevant form of self-expression: Prabhakar Barwe, Prafulla Mohanti, Sohan Qadri and G.R. Santosh.

The third 'type' of Tantric drawing shown here is the anomalous 'authored' work by Acharya Vyakul and Badrinath Pandit. Vyakul’s works first came to the West's attention when poet Franck André Jamme included them in a selection of works for the 1989 Centre Pompidou exhibition Magiciens de la Terre.

The exhibition features work by ten contemporary artists, all of whom know of and readily articulate a relationship with Tantric drawings.  Thinking Tantra speaks to the impulse Tantric drawings inspire in many artists to explore multiple dimensions, with artworks taking both two and three dimensional forms, and a site specific wall drawing by Claudia Wieser.

The exhibition is a curatorial collaboration between Rebecca Heald, Amrita Jhaveri and Drawing Room, London. A first iteration of the exhibition was at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai, in early 2016. Specialist in Tantra, Jain and ritual art from India, gallerist Joost van den Bergh has helped select the anonymous Tantric drawings and works by Bandrinath Pandit and Acharya Vyakul.