Anonymous Tantra Paintings – Press Release


Anonymous practitioners of Tantrism in Rajasthan, India commonly known as tantrikas, executed the twelve small paintings exhibited here on pieces of found paper. The paintings date from 2001 to 2014, yet the images themselves are of forms that emerged from religious texts, Tantric Treatises, from the 17th century. The artists of these paintings are in fact evolved spiritual practitioners; they do not see themselves as artists, but rather as agents of their rites and meditations. By virtue of the Tantra, they see the universe and all of its components as divine energy and transpose this through painting as a spiritual experience.

The Tantra works are invocations. Most westerners will immediately cue codes of modernism, likening the geometric forms to Malevich or the strict elements of reduction to Agnes Martin. But the works present an anonymity that assumes wholeness: an assuredness of imagery that distinctively contrasts the Western palette. They are not intended for the sake of artistic pursuit; rather, they are the raw ascetic tools of an ancient practice. As such, each painting radiates its own deified universe in the confines of space and form. Finally, their unique existence re-examines Western timelines and questions the established contemporary notions of the ‘genius artist.’

Organized by Jane Kim with Franck André Jamme, the exhibition Anonymous Tantra Paintings at 33 Orchard Gallery opens Sunday, October 11 and closes November 15, 2015. To view the exhibition, click this link and then click Works.

La Pavillon de l’Aurore in Château de Sceaux, France


La Pavillon de l’Aurore in Château de Sceaux, France by Charles Le Brun. L’Aurore sur son char chassant la Nuit, œuvre réalisée vers 1673


Glossary of Figures and Symbols

  1. Aurora (“Dawn”) on her chariot pulled by two horses. Embodies the coming of the day, the return of light and the opening gates of heaven to the sun.
  2. Chariot of Dawn’s two bay horses
  3. Cupid, losing his arrows, and leads the chariot of Aurora to Tithonus (Tithonus was one of Aurora’s lovers who lived forever in old age.)
  4. Two cherubs throwing flowers and pulling the chariot of Aurora towards Céphalus (Hero-figure who kills (evaporates) Procris (Dew) with his unerring ray or ‘javelin.’ Cephalus was one of Aurora’s lovers.
  5. White horses of the chariot of the Sun
  6. Hours of the Day, they accompany Aurora
  7. One of the Hours with the tray of ambrosia
  8. Palace of the Sun
  9. The point of the day (= Luicfer who pored light)
  10. Procris (“Dew”) and her watering can
  11. Flora (Spring)
  12. Zephyr – the god of wind
  13. “Morning Time” (winged figure) with his trumpet, his hammer, his bell and his rooster
  14. The winds
  15. “Life” with its flowers, fruits, its animals (lions, bears, wolves, fox, weasel) and birds (vulture, eagle, ostrich)
  16. Bacchus or “Autumn”
  17. Silenus {Greek: Σειληνός Seilēnos} A companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus. He is typically older than the satyrs of the Dionysian retinue thiasos
  18. Donkey of Silenus
  19. Satyr
  20. Castor rising
  21. Pollux descending
  22. “Night” and its sail full of nightmares, of dreams, of monsters, of owls
  23. “Sleep” (= Morpheus / Nivelon)
  24. Winter
  25. Tithonus – Aurora’s lover; see above
  26. Discreet love
  27. Cupid throwing poppies
  28. Diana
  29. The does of Diana’s chariot
  30. “Hours of the Night”


  1. Aries
  2. Taurus

20-21. Gemini (Castor and Pollux)

  1. Cancer
  2. Leo
  3. Virgo (Érigone = Summer )
  4. Libra
  5. Scorpio
  6. Sagittarius
  7. Capricorn
  8. Aquarius
  9. Pisces

Mike Kelley at The Whitney Museum in New York


More Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid is a frenzied, makeshift of dolls and blankets artist Mike Kelley excavated by digging through thrift stores. Kelley assembles the discarded play toys into one heap of discarded mass, exposing the darkly prototypical condition of child-rearing and childhood: loving something too much and receiving too little love in return. However, Kelley does not designate too whom more “love hours” are owed: At once, the blank stares of stuffed faces resemble a notion of love that is rejected. Could it be the cast-off product of a distant parent, the act of a child’s seclusion as a defense mechanism, that speaks beneath the mass of orphaned toys? Conversely, could the incalculable hours of labor – sewing, crocheting and stitching – required to make these dolls and blankets suggest a parent’s expectation for a sort of childlike forfeit, and for what? Raised above the pile of melted candles in Kelly’s corresponding work The Wages of Sin, the entire scene becomes an enshrined dais to child-angst and infers a child’s ‘trial by fire’ into the empty, callous worlds of duty, industry, and expiation of society.

Joos van Cleeve’s “The Adoration of the Magi” (1525)


Joos van Cleeve’s “The Adoration of the Magi” (1525) There are countless depictions of this scene but this triptych is one I find particularly rich in meaning. The centermost magus is Caspar in his normal stance: kneeling before the Virgin and child. Balthazar stands behind Caspar and to the right of Mary stands the youngest magus, Melchior.

The symbolism of their iconic gifts foretell the story of Christ: The offering of gold is for panegyric praise, the incense for martyrdom, and the myrrh for the entombment of the dead. In other words the three gifts signify Jesus’s timeline of royal ascendancy, divine redemption and predestined mortality.

Yet the exciting parallels don’t end there. The three magi represent the three continents of the known medieval world as well as the three Ages of Man: the white, decrepit Caspar is the old continent of Europe and senectitude, the tawny, seasoned Balthazar is Asia and maturity, and the sprung, stygian Melchior is Africa and youth.

Cover of Thomas Hobbes “Leviathan” (1651)


Hobbes’s political state, the Leviathan, is a monster. The name “Leviathan” refers originally to the Biblical sea beast: “None is so fierce that dare stir him up . . . When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid . . . Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear” (Job 41:10-33). Paradoxically, Hobbes chooses this creature to embody his ideal political state, because the Book of Job describes the Leviathan as “King of all the children of pride.” In essence, Hobbes’s political state must be a Leviathan, the most horrifying of all creatures, because it must mollify the egotism intrinsic in its components: citizens. Thus, in typical Machiavellian fashion, Hobbes approach to statecraft is utilizing fear to prevent a relapse of the ‘state of nature,’ a term broadly used in the political philosophy of the time to denote the natural state of a people lacking the regulatory parameters of a society.

The goliath, crowned monster is drawn rising from the landscape, armed with both a sword and a croisier. Beneath him reads a quote from the Book of Job —”Non est potestas Super Terram quae Comparetur ei. Iob. ” (“There is no power on earth to be compared to him. Job 41.24”) The upper body of the monster is comprised of more than three hundred persons and, in typical fashion of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, all are facing inwards with only the giant’s face showing visible features.

The lower portion is a triptych bordered in wood. On the two sides of the title-curtain, there is a string of objects that reflect their equivalent power: earthly power on the left and the powers of the church on the right. Each side element reflects the equivalent power – sword to croisier; castle to church; crown to mitre; cannon to excommunication; weapons to judgment; the battlefield to the religious courts. The Leviathan balances the symbols of both sides, echoing the alliance of secular and spiritual in the sovereign power, as the construction of the torso also makes the figure the state itself.

Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus (1829) by J. M. W. Turner


Ulysses (otherwise more commonly known as Odysseus) is standing aloft on his ship having narrowly escaped the Cyclops, whom he and his crew have just blinded, and conjuring the maritime vengeance of Neptune. Turner, known for his delectable seascapes and chasmal light funnels, captures this iconic scene with his own anecdotic touches of interpretation: One of the flags is painted with the scene of the Trojan Horse, Polyphemus is disguised as a mountain top, the chanting sirens of the sea resemble broken waves upon Ulysses’ ship, and the horses of the sun god, Apollo, are painted as leaping in arciform over the rising sun; each subject is painted with Turner’s signature ‘vanishing effect’ made of soft hues and transparent lines.

In his article “The Paintings of Turner and the Dynamic Sublime,” George P. Landow points to how “in place of the static composition, rational and controlled, that implies a conception of the scene-as-object, Turner created a dynamic composition that involved the spectator in a subjective relation to the storm.”

Sainte-Ursule Chapel of the Sorbonne

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In typical Parisian fashion, I discovered this illuminated edifice as I emerged from wandering alleyways. Although I’d seen it before during the day, it certainly dons a new presence alit over its mirroring pool. It is a surprise like this that keeps me endlessly mesmerized with this city that I’ve been fortunate to call my home for two years.

Considered one of the masterpieces of French classical architecture, this chapel blends both Renaissance and Baroque architectural reflections. In the tradition of Baroque churches, the facade has two rows of superimposed Corinthian and Composite columns bordered to the floor by two voluted scrolls. It has four niches each decorated with a statue (top left St. Thomas Aquinas, right Peter Lombard and bottom right Bossuet and left Gerson). Four other statues extend the scrolls on the ridge of the ground up, among which depict Moses and saints Peter and Paul.

The central window has changed in the nineteenth century to incorporate a clock surmounted Cardinal arms held by two muses. Historically, this is the first cupola-monument in the capital. The two sides translate the polarity of Rome: The columned parvis in the courtyard recalls the ancient Roman Pantheon, while the Baroque facade on the newly cleared site is in the vain of the Christian Rome of Catholic reform.

“Pie Jesu Domine, Dona eis requiem sempiternam.”

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I found this hidden bas-relief in the corner of a church in Vieux-Antibes today. It depicts eternity (the serpent biting its tail) and fleeting time (the winged hourglass). The symbols illustrate the motet embossed beneath which, derived from the Latin hymn Dies Irae, reads: “Pious Lord Jesus, Give them everlasting rest.”