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 paintings are the progeny of hand-written, illustrated religious treatises from the 17th century which have been copied over multiple generations. 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.
Having spent more than two decades in conversation with the private communities of Rajasthani tantrikas, Jamme—like other poet-ethnographers Michaux, Leiris, and Bataille before him—draws on an unconventional body of knowledge. His accompanying texts—concise and luminous—further open readers to the paintings’ subtle magic.
Franck André Jamme (1947-2020) 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.