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Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan Hardcover – October 31, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.
Rendered by hand on found pieces of paper and used primarily for meditation, 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.
In Tantra Song, Jamme assembles some of the most pulsating works he’s acquired, while unpacking his experiential knowledge of Tantra’s cosmology. (Lauren O'Neil-Butler The Paris Review)

The paintings Jamme found, bought and is now showing to the world are full of color and power, contemplative but not always serene, and above all enigmatic - at least to those, Western and Indian alike, who are not initiaties of Tantra.
Circles, squares, traingles and ovals (the latter a reference to the "Shiva linga," the ancient Indian phallic emblem) interact and sometimes even seem to leap from the paper, animated by contrasts of complimentary colors and by the arrows, dots and spirals that swirl about inside them. (John Dorfman Art & Antiques)

The stunning images abstract key symbols of Tantric metaphysics and cosmogony, from the bindu, a dot symbolizing the undifferentiated absolute, to the negative space of the shunya, the absolute void of the supreme deity. But what makes these works extraordinary is the poetic contrast between the seeming simplicity of their minimalist geometric forms and the complex, textured humanity of their handmade paper, water stains, and imperfect text ― two opposing currents, which ebb and flow in a delicate osmotic balance that could never be achieved digitally, on a sterile screen.
Aesthetically breathtaking and framed in a powerful story about curiosity, creative restlessness, and obsession, Tantra Song is a singular convergence of East and West, bound to mesmerize. (Maria Popova Brain Pickings)

The abstract paintings shown here are not by Kazimir Malevich or Paul Klee but by Hindu tantra devotees… the anonymous heirs to a pictorial tradition that dates to the 1600s. Painted on salvaged paper and rarely measuring more than a foot high, the images possess a strange kinship with 20th-century art. And their agelessness cast a spell over Franck André Jamme, a French poet who nearly got himself killed tracking down these works across the deserts of Rajasthan. (Stephen Heyman The New York Times: T Magazine)

It 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.
Born of 25 years worth of research, travel, and involvement, this book offers a selection of rare, abstract Hindu tantric paintings culled from Jamme’s personal collection. It’s an exceptional example of beautiful obsession by a self-proclaimed passionate amateur (Jamme, one of France’s leading contemporary poets and the author of more than a dozen books, clearly states in the text that he is not an expert on these mysterious paintings). (Craig Olson The Brooklyn Rail)

About the Author

Franck Andr Jamme has published twelve books of poems and fragments since 1981, as well as numerous illustrated books. In 2005, he won the Grand Prix de Po sie de la Societ des Gens de Lettres. His work has been praised by Edmond Jab s and Ren Char and translated by John Ashbery.

Born in 1961, Lawrence Rinder began his curatorial career in 1988 as the "MATRIX" Curator at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, California. He moved to New York in 2000 to become The Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator of Contemporary Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art, responsible for the Contemporary Portfolio of the museum, including exhibitions and acquisitions of works made since 1985. He was Chief Curator of the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Currently, Rinder is Dean of Graduate Studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Siglio (October 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979956277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979956270
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Read the product description and carefully examine each of the many examples of the paintings provided above, including zooming in to see the detail. This will give you a tiny idea of these paintings. This is a collection of anonymously produced painting uses by tantric practitioners as a focus of meditation in Rajasthan, India. Painted on uses paper and discarded when they deteriorate they were not produced as works of art, nor apparently would their creators identify themselves as artists. But the simplicity of the shapes, bleeding colors and assorted background impurities and shapes left from the previous use of the paper all combine to produce deeply moving works of art.

I recently saw the exhibit of these paintings at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and purchased this catalog, which I took back into the exhibit to compare the paintings to the reproductions. I did this because it is the interplay of the paintings with the remnants left in the old paper that provided the depth, and it seemed unlikely that a reproduction would accurately convey this. I was surprised, and happy, to be wrong. The reproductions are as vivid and detailed as the originals, and almost as large. It is unfortunate that some of the larger works are reproduced over two pages, crimped in the center by the binding. In an ideal world these would be fold-outs, because the way they are printed ruined those double page spreads for me. But there are few of those.

There are poems and writings about the works and about tantric meditations. But I thought those were virtually worthless. It is the paintings themselves that make the book, and besides the informative introduction I think the book would improve, and receive a final star, by jettisoning the silly verbiage.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many years ago I was introduced to tantric artwork like the work seen in this book. I have never seen that book again. This is the closest book to what I viewed 40 years ago. Traditional Tantric work does not look this..or shall I say...work seen online or in books. So, I was delighted to finally find this book and the work presented. Thankfully the color photography/printing is excellent and the artwork dominates the book. This book is not a big coffee table book. It is little book but worth the buy.
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By bee on September 30, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful surprise to stumble on...incredible attention to printing these exquisite paintings. The commentary is also inspiring and insightful.
Opens many doors of perception when these are used as meditation tools as Jamme suggests.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Few books give the kind of pleasure this small collection of images provides. A simplicity that permits retreat from clutter while fully engaging the intellectual and expressive aspects of mind. Each return viewing is as rich as the previous.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is breathtaking because the art is, I refer back to it every so often simply for aesthetic inspiration.
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These private devotional artworks are stunning in their power. The reproductions do an excellent job of capturing the delicate and subtle details. I wish I could see these in person!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was actually looking for the old book, Yoga Art by Ajit Mookerjee, but you can only find that one second hand and rather expensive so when this popped up in my search field I thought why not. It is beautiful, the art is done during meditation or by the influence of deep meditation, you can feel that. Franck André Jamme has collected those paintings in Rajasthan and it is goache on paper. Simple forms and patterns, but to me it speaks. I feel them. They make me calm and humble, but then again I meditate a lot myself and I recognize colours, forms and representations from my own depths.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Absolutely beautiful paintings and an intelligent well-done book. 2nd printing. The first printing sold out almost instantly. A good deal.
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