at home in the universe

20 Jul – 07 Sep 2019

For those attuned to it, in recent years Tantra as an idea and a way of being in the world has been steadily gaining currency in contemporary artistic practice. Insofar as it is possible to offer a crystalised definition of it, Tantra is a term used to describe ways of connecting with the cosmos, the micro to macro. 

In the sphere of art, Tantra was propagated in the west by curator and collector Ajit Mookerjee from the early 1960s onwards. Mookerjee claimed Tantra’s ultimate aim was the attainment of ‘a state of perfect bliss’. Through exhibitions including Philip Rawson’s seminal 1971 Tantra at the Hayward Gallery in London, many artists began to engage with as well as collect and live with tantric artefacts. There is still much study to be done on revising the dominant art histories so that they pay proper tribute to the influence of other cultures and traditions, including of Tantra on modernism and minimalism. In the meantime, it is important to acknowledge that these histories exist, as well as perhaps to contemplate the assertion of psychoanalyst Carl Jung that there are universal patterns and images that are part of a collective unconscious operating across cultures and time. 

This exhibition brings together the work of two artists, Mahirwan Mamtani and Harminder Judge. Separated by generations and geographies, they are united in a declared interest in Tantra, and upon first encounter their work might also appear to share aesthetic qualities. Yet further looking and learning reveals definite differences. Mamtani’s work remains closely visually aligned to the schematics of Mandalas; Judge’s work is more open with swathes of unadorned space, it is less directive. The works are about what we have in common with the universe, as well as who we are as individuals and how we find our place in it, our home.

Download complete text and list of works here