Tantra SongTantric Painting from Rajasthan
Frank André Jamme (editor)
Translated by Michael Tweed, introduction by Lawrence Rinder, interview by Bill Berkson and essay by André Padoux
hardcover 8 × 11 in.
112 pages, full color
published in 2011
Tantra Song is a singular and revelatory collection of rare Tantric paintings made anonymously by adepts in Rajasthan and used to awaken heightened states of consciousness. The paintings’ magnetic, vibratory beauty—as well as their deep affinity with 20th century abstract art—inspires acute attention and boundless contemplation.
The paintings are the progeny of hand-written, illustrated religious treatises from the 17th century which have been copied over multiple generations. Like musicians playing ragas of classical Indian music, adepts paint in a concentrated state of mental rapture, repeating and subtly reinterpreting melodic structures of line and color. When complete, the paintings—made in tempera, gouache, and watercolor on salvaged paper—are pinned to the wall to use in private meditation.
Having spent more than two decades in conversation with the private communities of Rajasthani tantrikas, Jamme—like other poet-ethnographers Michaux, Leiris, and Bataille before him—draws on an unconventional body of knowledge. His accompanying texts—concise and luminous—further open readers to the paintings’ subtle magic.
Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan . . . is an evocation of the image as a threshold leading to new dimensions of meaning, a revelatory understanding that some images are more than mere data; they are instead vital seeds, living carriers of possibility.
—Craig Olson, Brooklyn Rail
“It could be a cult classic: the debut edition of Siglio Press’s Tantra Song—one of the only books to survey the elusive tradition of abstract Tantric painting from Rajasthan, India—sold out in a swift six weeks. The works depict deities as geometric, vividly hued shapes and mark a clear departure from Tantric art’s better-known figurative styles. They also resonate uncannily with lineages of twentieth-century art—from the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism to Minimalism—as well as with much painting today. Rarely have the ancient and the modern come together so fluidly.”
—Lauren O’Neill-Butler, The Paris Review
Read more reviews at The New York Times Style Magazine, Port Magazine and Brain Pickings.
✼ natalie’s upstate weather report:
September 23, 2022 — Relentlessly stormy with brief bouts of sunshine as the melancholy of fall sets in. We’re all about the dummies here (and proofs), preparing to send off HC’s I Will Keep My Soul to press. Meanwhile, our publisher LP (who will not be bullied) is continuing testimony on zoom at a court in Lithuania (wish her luck!). And like a rocket with a countdown, we’ve launched this website! Thank you, TG & JG of ES![...]