The medieval ages saw the rise in India and parts of Asia of philosophical, theological, cultural, literary and visual manifestations that derived from diverse faiths but with one aim—to attain enlightened liberation. Its resistance to Brahmanical texts and hegemony resulted in the creation of geometrical aesthetics that were interpreted by way of texts, paintings, and architecture and had a monumental impact on society. At the centre of its geometric configurations—the triangle, the square, and the circle—lay the idea of Creation itself, the source of primal energy that could to be diverted towards a higher consciousness, and all universe was manifest in this.
Known as tantra, the mid-twentieth century saw a revival of interest and interpretations in this esoteric philosophy as a result of the counterculture movement that swept through the Western world that was seeking a humanitarian response to wars and rapid industrialisation that had dispossessed mankind from a social order that was increasingly under stress. An emotional and sacred quest drew people from all over the world to the Indian subcontinent in search of ‘answers’.
Within India, it spearheaded a fresh search into its ancient roots to offer succour to a bruised humanity, and out of this churning emerged a bold and significant language of modern abstract art that has been described as neo-tantra. Using elements of symbology, light, sound, word, consciousness, energy, and pro-creation, Indian modernists—in search of an abstract lexicon to call their own—responded with a range of ideas that have been represented here by G. R. Santosh, Satish Gujral, Shobha Broota, Biren De, Sohan Qadri, Sunil Das and P. T. Reddy. Their works can be interpreted as a visceral response to tantra with secret meanings that make these incandescent paintings glow with an otherness that is difficult to overlook. These compelling paintings expound the path to enlightenment and liberation in a language that is exciting, modern—and India