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 images were discovered by French poet Franck André Jamme in 1970 while rummaging through the catalogues of a Parisian art gallery. Jamme became fascinated by the images’ affinity with modern art and poetry. He read voraciously and even journeyed to India, searching in vain for Tantric practitioners, until a bus accident on the road to Jaipur sent him home to France with serious injuries. When he returned a few years later he met a soothsayer who proclaimed that Jamme had now paid sufficient tribute to the goddess Shakti and required him to take a vow: he must visit the tantrikas alone or only in the company of a loved one.
Since then, Jamme has gained extraordinary access to very private communities of adepts and their intensely beautiful works. The progeny of seventeenth-century illustrated religious treatises, these drawings have evolved into a distinct visual lexicon designed to awaken heightened states of consciousness and are imbued with specific spiritual meanings (e.g. spirals and arrows for energy, an inverted triangle for Shakti).
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.
FRANCK ANDRÉ JAMME is one France’s leading contemporary poets and the author of more than a dozen books. His publications in English (translated by John Ashbery, Charles Borkhuis, David Kelley, and Michael Tweed) include New Exercises, Another Silent Attack, Moon Wood, The Recitation of Forgetting, and Extracts of the Life of a Beetle. Described by Henri Michaux as “a writer of rare quality,” Jamme has also collaborated with a number of artists including Phillippe Favier, Suzan Frecon, Acharya Vyakul, and Hanns Schimansky, as well as translated the works of John Ashbery and Lokenath Bhattacharya. A specialist in art brut, Tantric and tribal art of India, he has curated and contributed to exhibitions at The Drawing Center, Centre Pompidou, and Beaux-Arts de Paris, among others.
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