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Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920
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Hindu Art by Benoy Kumar Sarkar 1920

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  • 1. AA SARKAR2 Hindu Art37468 7301 D ,7
  • 2. HINDU ART
  • 3. HINDU ART: ITS HUMANISM AND MODERNISM An introductory essay by i. Benoy Kumar Sarkar Professor, National Council of Education, Bengal. Author of Love in Hindu Literature, The Bliss of a Moment, Chinese Religion Through Hindu Eyes, Hindu Achievements in Exact Science, etc.New York, B. W. HUEBSCH, Inc., Mcmxx
  • 4. COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY B. W. HUEBSCH, INC. PRINTED IN U. S. A.
  • 5. PREFACE "The Giottos of Hindu art," I wrotein an article on "Oriental Culture inModern Pedagogics" in School andSociety (April 14, 1917) , "would bewell known great masters to the stu-dents of early Renaissance painting,and the post-impressionists and futur-ists of Eur- America would be found tohave as their comrades new ventures inand experiments the Hindu painters ofthe modern nationalist school." Such was the message also of my talksat the Pen and Brush Club, ColumbiaUniversity, the Civic Club, and otherinstitutions in the United States, theoutcome of which is this little book.Parts of it have appeared in the Jour- Race Development, andnal of in theModern Review (Calcutta).
  • 6. CONTENTSSECTION PACE I Art-Criticism in Shakoontala . . 9 II Comparative Art-History . 16III Humanism in Hindu Art . 28IV Hindu Technique in Post-Impres sionism 35
  • 7. HINDU ART ITS HUMANISM AND MOD- ERNISM SECTION I ART-CRITICISM IN SHAKOONTALAIn Kalidasas play, Shakoontala (fifthcentury A. C), we have among thedramatis personae Anasuya, a dam-sel of the hermitage, who is skilled inpainting. Besides, a considerable por-tion of Act VI, Sc. ii is a study in artcriticism. It introduces us to some ofthe themes of the Hindu painters, theirmethods of execution, and the aesthetictaste of the spectators. King Doosyanta has through inad-vertence dismissed his wife Shakoon- 9
  • 8. HINDU ARTtala from the palace. He soon per-ceives his mistake and becomes love-sick. A picture of Shakoontala is thenpainted. The king hopes to derivesome relief from this likeness. "(Enter a maid with a tablet.)Maid. Your Majesty, here is the picture of our lady. (She produces the tablet.)King (gazing at it). It is a beautiful picture. See! A graceful arch of brows above great eyes; Lips bathed in darting, smiling light that flies Reflected from white teeth; a mouth as red As red karkandhu-fruit; loves bright- ness shed Oer all her face in bursts of liquid charm — The picture speaks, with living beauty warm.Clown (looking at it). The sketch is 10
  • 9. HINDU ART full of sweet meaning. My eyes seem to stumble over its uneven surface. What more can I say? I expect to see it come to life, and I feel like speaking to it.Mishrakeshi. The king is a clever painter. I seem to see the dear girl before me.King. My friend, What in the picture is not fair, Is badly done; Yet something of her beauty there, won. I feel, is • {Sighing.) •»••• I treated her with scorn and loathing ever; Now oer her pictured charms my heart will burst.Clown. There are three figures in the picture, and they are all beautiful. Which one is the lady Shakoontala?King. Which one do you think?Clown (observing closely). I think it ii
  • 10. HINDU ART is this one, leaning against the creeper which she has just sprinkled. Her face is hot and the flowers are dropping from her hair; for the ribbon is loosened. Her arms droop weary branches; like she has loosened her girdle, and she seems a little This, I think, fatigued. is the lady Shakoontala; the others are her friends.King. You are good at guessing. Be- sides, here are proofs of my love. See where discolorations faint Of loving handling tell; And here the swelling of the paint Shows where my sad tears fell. ...••Chatoorika. I have not finished the background. Go, get the brushes.Clown. What are you going to add?Mishrakeshi. Surely, every spot that the dear girl loved.King. Listen, my fiiend. The stream of Malini, and on its sands The swan-pairs resting; holy foot-hill lands 12
  • 11. HINDU ART Of great Himalayas sacred ranges, where The yaks are seen; and under trees that bear Bark hermit-dresses on their branches high, A doe that on the bucks horn rubs her eye.And another ornament that Shakoontala • loved ••••• I have forgotten to paint. The siris-blossom, fastened oer her ear, Whose stamens brush her cheek; The lotus-chain like autumn moonlight soft Upon her bosom meek.Clown. But why does she cover her face with fingers lovely as the pink water- lily? She seems frightened. {He looks more closely.) I see. Here is a bold, bad bee. He steals honey, and so heKing. • ••••• flies to her lotus-face. Sting that dear lip, O bee, with cruel power, 13
  • 12. HINDU ART And you shall be imprisoned in a flower.Clown. Well, he doesnt seem afraid of your dreadful punishment. . . .King. Will he not go, though I warn him?Clown {aloud). It is only a picture, man." (Ryders version.) There is no touch of pessimism,idealism, or subjectivism in all these re-marks and suggestions. A modernlover examining the photo or oil paint-ing of his darling could not be morerealistic. Does this conversation open up to usa society of ascetics or yogins waitingfor Divine illumination to evolveshilpa (art) out of the neo-Platonicmeditation or the Hindu dhyana? Ordoes it make the India of the fifth cen-tury a cognate of the modern world in
  • 13. HINDU ARTits matter-of-fact sober grasp of therealities of flesh and blood? It is really a specimen of Hindu pos-itivism that Kalidasa, the Shakespeareof Hindu literature, has furnished inthis bit of discussion in pictorial art.We feel how profound humanists theHindu audiences were in their outlook,how non-mystical in their views andcriticisms in regard to chitra-lakshana(i. e.j "marks" of a painting). i*
  • 14. SECTION II COMPARATIVE ART-HISTORYAND yet European and Americanscholars as well as their Asian para-phrasers have tried to discover anddemonstrate an Oriental pessimism inthe arts and crafts of the Hindus. It isgenerally held that the inspiration ofHindu painters and sculptors is totallydifferent from that of the Westerns.The images and pictures executed bythe artists of India are believed to havebeen the products of Yoga, of an ultra-meditative consciousness. They aresaid to reveal a much too subjective oridealistic temperament. Further, theyare all alleged to be religious or mytho-logical in theme. 16
  • 15. HINDU ART Comparative art-history would indi-cate,however, that Hindu plastic artor drawing has not been the handmaidof theology to a far greater extent thanthe classical and medieval works ofEurope. Is it Greek mythology notthat we see embodied in the sculpturesof Phidias? Similarly are not theCatholic and Russian paintings mereaids to the popularization of the Biblestories? Indeed, art has long beenmore or less "illustrative" of history,legends, traditions, and myths both inthe East and the West. We do not know much of the Greekpaintings. But we know the legendsin the drawings on the Greek vases ofthe fifth century B. C. In one the ser-pent is being strangled by Heracles, al-most as if the hydra Kaliya being isquelled by Krishna; in another Theseus 17
  • 16. HINDU ARTis fighting the Amazons and ; in a thirdGorgon is pursuing Perseus or Kadmoskilling the dragon. What else are thethemes of the medieval Purana-paint-ers? And Hindus whose infancy isnurtured on the stories and paintings ofthe Ramayana will easily remember fa-miliar scenes in the colored terra cot-tas of Hellas which portray, for in-stance, a Paris in the act of leadingaway Helen, or the parting of Hectorand Andromache. It may be confidently asserted, be-sides, that the spiritual atmosphere ofGothic cathedrals of the thirteenthcentury with their soul-inspiring sculp-tures in alabaster and bronze has notbeen surpassed in the architecture ofthe East. The pillars at Chartres withhas reliefs of images and flowers couldbe bodily transported to the best relig- 18
  • 17. HINDU ARTious edifices of Hindustan. The elon-gated Virgin at the Paris Notre Dameis almost as conventionalized as a Kor-ean Kwannon. The representation ofvirtues and vices on the portal of theSavior at the Amiens Cathedral sug-gests the moralizing in woodwork onthe walls of Japan. And Nikko inscenes from the Passion on the tym-panum at Strassburg or from the LastJudgment on the tympanum of thenorth door in the Cathedral at Paris areoriented to the same psychologicalbackground as the has reliefs depictingincidents in the holy career of Buddhawith which the Stoopas (mounds) ofCentral India make us familiar, or ofthe Dalai Lama on the surface of themarble pagoda at Peking. Further, it may be asked, can anyClassicist rationally declare that the 19
  • 18. HINDU ARTGreek Apollos are not the creations ofsubjective, the so-called yogic or medi-tative experience? In what respectsare the figures of the Hindu Buddhasand Shivas more idealistic? Polyklei-tos, for instance, dealt with abstract hu-manity, ideals, or "airy nothings" in thesame sense as the artists of the Gooptaperiod (A. c. 300-600) or Dhiman andVitapala of the Pala period (780-1 175) in India. Nowhere has a sculp-tured image, has relief, or coloreddrawing been completely "photograph-ic." Art as such is bound to be inter-pretative or rather originative; andidentification of the artists self with histheme is the sine qua non of all creativeelan, in science as in art. We have to recognize, moreover, thatsaints and divinities are not the exclu-sive themes of art work in India. 20
  • 19. HINDU ARTHindu art has flourished in still life,social (genre), natural, plant, and ani-mal studies as well. The avoidance ofthe nude in early Christian art has itsreplica in the East. Physical beautywas not more often a taboo in Hinduart-psychology than in the Western.The dignity of the flesh has left itsstamp on Indias water colors, gouachepaintings, and stone and bronze. Even the figures of the Hindu godsand goddesses are to be perceivedas projections of the human person-ality. The medieval Rajput paint-ings of the Radha-Krishna cycle andthe Shiva-Doorga cycle can have butone secular appeal to all mankind.Accordingly we are not surprised to,find in Dhananjaya the medievaldramaturgists Dasha-roopa the dic-tum that anything and everything can 21
  • 20. HINDU ARTbe the theme of art (IV, 90, Haasstransl.). Lastly, can one forget that the condi-tions of life that produced the Byzan-tine and Italian masterpieces were al-most similar to the milieu (economicand socio-religious) including courtpatronage and guild control, underwhich flourished the celebrated Ajantapainters and Bharhut sculptors? Forin the Middle Ages in Asia as in Eu-rope the church or the temple was theschool, the art-gallery, and the mu-seum; the priests and monks werepainters, poets, calligraphists and peda-gogues; and the Scriptures constitutedthe whole encyclopaedia. And if to-day it is possible for the Western mindto appreciate Fra Angelico, Massaccio,and Giotto, it cannot honestly ignorethe great masters of the Hindu styles, 22
  • 21. HINDU ARTespecially in view of the fact that theworks of the Oriental medievals arenot more "imperfect" in technique ac-cording to modern ideas than those oftheir Occidental fellow-artists. The fundamental identity of artisticinspiration between the East and theWest, allowing for the differences inschools and epochs in each, is inci-dentally borne out by coincidences insocial life for which art work is respon-sible. Thus, the interior, nave andaisles of the Buddhist cave temples donot impress an observer with any feel-ings different from those evoked by theearly Christian churches and NormanCathedrals. The towers and contoursof the twelfth century RomanesqueCathedral Ely and the sixteenth cen- attury Gothic structure at Orleans havethe ensemble of the gopoorams of 23
  • 22. HINDU ARTSouthern India. And the Gothic tap-estries representing the hunting scenesof a Duke of Burgundy suggest at thevery first sight the aspects of medievalHindu and the figures and head- castlesdresses of the Indo-Saracenic Moghulstyles. It may sometimes be difficult for anon-Hindu fully to appreciate the im-ages and paintings of India becausetheir conventions and motifs are so pe-culiarly Hindu. Exactly the same dif-ficulty arises with regard to Westernart. Who but a Christian can find in-spiration in a Last Supper or a HolyFamily or a God dividing light fromdarkness? For that matter, even theAeneid would be unintelligible to themodern Eur- American lovers of poetryunless they made it a point to studyRoman history. Nay, a well-educated 24
  • 23. HINDU ARTJew may naturally fail to respond tothe sentiments in the Divine Comedyor Signorellis Scenes from Dante. But the difficulties of appreciationby foreigners do not make an art-worknecessarily "local" or racial. It maystill be universal in its appeal and thor-oughly humanistic. There are hardlyany people who in modern times canenter into the spirit of the Ka statueswhich stand by the sarcophagi in thecave tombs of the Pharaohs. And yethow essentially akin to modern man-kind were the Egyptians if we can de-pend on the evidences of their letters 1A Ka is described in one of the inscrip-tions thus: "He was an exceptionalman; wise, learned, displaying truemoderation of mind, distinguishing thewise man from the fool; a father to theunfortunate, a mother to the motherless, 25
  • 24. HINDU ARTthe terror of the cruel, the protector ofthe disinherited, the defender of the op- husband of the widow, thepressed, therefuge of the orphan." There is nogap in fundamental humanity betweenthe men and women of to-day and therace that could write such an epitaph,in spite of the fact that many of its con-ventions and usages seem entirely mean-ingless. The student of foreign literature hasspecially to qualify himself in orderthat he may understand the unfamiliaridioms of its language and the peculiarturns of expression. No other qualifi-cation is demanded in modern men andwomen for an appreciation of the oldand distant carvings, statuettes anddrawings. The chief desideratum isreally an honest patience with the ra- 26
  • 25. HINDU ARTcial modes and paraphernalia of for-eign art. With elementary preparation the thisOccidental connoisseur should be ableto say Hindu sculptures and aboutpaintings what Max Weber writes aboutall antiques in his essay on "Traditionand Now" "Whether we : have changedor not, I believe, in spite of all the man-ifestos to the contrary, in whatevertongue they be written or spoken, thatthe antiques will live as long as the sunshines, as long as there is mother andchild, as long as there are seasons andclimes, long as there as is life anddeath, sorrow and joy." (Essays onArt.) 27
  • 26. SECTION III HUMANISM IN HINDU ARTIN Shookra-neeti, a Hindu sociolog-ical treatise, we read a few injunc-tions against the construction of humanimages. We are told that "the imagesof gods, even if deformed, are for thegood of men. But the images of men,even if well formed, are never for hu-man Shookras generally rec- good."ognized dictum seems to be that "theimages of gods yield happiness to men,and lead to heaven; but those of menlead away from heaven and yieldgrief." (Ch. IV, Sec, iv, lines 154—158, Sarkars transl.) Verses of a similar import fromshilpa-shastras (treatises on arts and 28
  • 27. HINDU ARTcrafts) may be used as texts by thosewho want prove the wholly non-sec- toular character of Hindu art. But suchart critics would commit the same fal-lacy as those psychologists who formu-late the race-ideal of the entire Hindupopulation of all ages on the strengthof a few sayings of Shakya the Buddhaand other moralists. In spite ofShookra, Hindus have had sculpturesof human beings in the streets and pub-lic places, has reliefs of warrior-kingson coins, and paintings of men andwomen on the walls of their houses, pal-aces, and art galleries. Secular art wasan integral part of their common life.Imagery and from the worldly similespaintings and sculptures are some ofthe stock-in-trade embellishments of fic-every literary work, e. g., poetry,tion, drama, in India. 29
  • 28. HINDU ART In Soobandhus prose romance, Vas-avadatta (sixth century A. C), there isa description of the Vindhya mountain.One of the objects mentioned is the lion"with sinewy frame, now rising hishigh behind and now before." Andthe author is at once led to think of thescene as a possible theme of painting.Thus,"His ears erect, in sudden onslaught skilled,His mane astart, and jaws all hideous,His stiffened tail high-waving in the breeze —No artistcould portray this awful beastWhat time he croucheth on the mighty browOf some great elephant, shrill trumpetingAdown the lonely dells of Vindhyas mount." (Grays version.) Painting was an accomplishment ofthe literary women. The box of 30
  • 29. HINDU ARTpaints, canvas, pencil, tapestry, and pic-ture-frames are referred to in Charu-datta,Clay Cart, Raghu-vamsha, Oot-tara-rama-charita and Kadambaree.All these references apply to mundanepaintings. In Vasavadatta, again, Pa-talipootra (Patna) is described as a cityof which the conspicuous objects arethe statues, which adorn the white-washed houses. It is almost a convention with theheroes and heroines of Hindu literaturetospeak of the faces of their beloved as"pictures fixed on the walls of theheart." This conceit occurs even inKrishnamishras morality-play, Pra-bodha-chandrodaya (ele^^enilx cen-tury). In Soobandhus romance the heroineVasavadatta is seen by Kandarpaketuin a dream. She "was a picture, as it 3i
  • 30. HINDU ARTwere, on the wall of life." And whenhe awoke he "embraced the sky, andwith outstretched arms cried to his be-loved, as if she were painted in theheavens, graven on his eyes, and carvenon his heart." Kandarpaketu goes tosleep "looking on that most dear one asif limned by the pencil of fancy on thetablet of his heart." Similarly Vasavadatta thinks ofKandarpaketu "as if he were carven onher heart ... he were engraved as ifthere, inlaid, riveted." She exclaimsto one of her maidens: "Trace in apicture the thief of my thoughts."And, "over and over thinking thus, asif he were painted on the quarters andsub-quarters (of the sky), as if he wereengraved on the cloud, as if he were re-flected in her eye, she painted him in apicture as if he had been seen before." 32
  • 31. HINDU ART The joy of life in all its manifesta-tions is the one grand theme of allHindu art. It approach the is futile tosculptors and painters of India with thenotion of finding a typically Hindumessage in them. The proper methodshould be to watch how far and in whatmanner the artist has achieved his endsas artist; i. e., as manipulator of formsand colors. Interpretation of life, or"criticism of life" may be postulated ofevery great worker in ink, bronze, orclay, whether in the East or in theWest. The only test of a masterpiece,however, is ultimately furnished by thequestions: "Is it consistent in itself?Does this handiwork of man add to theknown types of the universe? Has itextended the bounds of Creation?" Human ideals are the same all theworld over. One piece of art in India 33
  • 32. HINDU ARTmay be superior to another in Europe,and vice versa. But this superiority isnot necessarily a superiority in art-idealor race-genius. It has to be credited tothe individual gifts of the master inworkmanship, or perhaps to the grouppsychology of a creative epoch. Thereis but one standard for all art (shilpa),but one world-measure for all humanenergy (shakti). And since neitherthe Eastern nor the Western evolutioncan be summed up in single shibboleths,types, or schools, it would be absurd totry to appraise Indian experience solelyin terms of the aesthetics that found oneof its most powerful expressions in theart-theory of the Young Germany rep-resented by Cornelius, Overbeck, Schil-ler and others (cf. Schillers Use of theChorus). 34
  • 33. SECTION IVHINDU TECHNIQUE IN POST-IMPRES- SIONISM"MODERN" is the term that seems tohave been monopolized by the artistswho claim Cezanne as their inspirer.And yet in this modernism Old Indiaspaintings and sculptures have been astimulating force. The plastic art-creations at Bharhutand the frescoes Ajanta constitute in atstone and color, as we have indicated,the poetry of the whole gamut of hu-man emotions from "the ape and tiger"to the "god-in-man." The encyclo-paedic humanism of Hindu art is in-deed comparable only to the compre- 35
  • 34. HINDU ARThensive secularism in the painted basreliefs of Egyptian hill-caves and thestately Kakemonos of the Chinese mas-ters. While the message of the artistsand craftsmen of India is thus universalas the man of flesh and blood, they de-veloped certain peculiarities in thetechnique and mode of expressionwhich "he that runs may read." The most prominent characteristic ofHindu sculptures and paintings is whatmay be called the "dance-form." Wesee the figures, e. g., Shiva, the princeof dancers, or Krishna, the flute-player,in action, doing something, in the sup-ple movement of limbs. Lines ofgraceful motion, the play of geometriccontours, the ripple of forms, the flow-ing rhythm of bends and joints in spacewould arrest the eye of every observerof the bronzes, water-colors, and gou- 36
  • 35. HINDU ARTache works in India. Another charac-teristic that cannot fail to be noticed isthe elimination of details, the suppres-sion of minuter individualities, on theone hand, and, on the other, the occa-sional elongation of limbs, the exagger-ation of features, etc. All this isbrought about by the conscious impro-vising of a new "artistic anatomy" outof the natural anatomy known to the ex-act science of Ayurveda (medicine).In the swollen breasts, narrowed waists,bulky hips, etc., of Late Minoan orCretan (c. 1500 B.C.) works whichbridged the gulf between the Pharaonicand the primitive Hellenic arts we cansee the analogues or replicas of some ofthe Hindu conventions. Leaving aside other characteristics,e. g., the absence of perspective, thegrouping of color-masses, the free lais- 37
  • 36. HINDU ARTsez faire treatment of sentiments, andso forth, one can easily pick up theHindu elements from the Cezannesquepaintings and Rodins sculptures anddrawings. Let us listen first to Rodin lecturingon the beauties of Venus of Melos: "In the synthesis of the work of artthe arms, the legs, count only when theymeet in accordance with the planes thatassociate them in a same effect; and it isthus in nature, who cares not for our an-alytical description. The great artistsproceed as nature composes and not asanatomy decrees. They never sculp-ture any muscle, any nerve, any bone,for itself; it is the whole at which theyaim and which they express." (Dud-leys transl., p. 15.) It is this theoriz-ing that virtually underlies Hindu artwork. 38
  • 37. HINDU ART Similarly Vincent Van Gogh (1830-1890) , the Dutch painter, who, if not inexecution like Cezanne, has, at least inideal,pioneered the new art movementof to-day, seems almost to have giventhe theory of Hindu art from the sideof painting. Says he: "I should despair if my figures werecorrect; ... I think Michaelangelosfigures magnificent, even though thelegs are certainly too long and the hipsand the pelvis bones a little too broad.. .It is my most fervent desire to .know how one can achieve such devia-tions from reality, such inaccuraciesand such transfigurations, that comeabout by chance. Well, if you like,they are lies, but they are more valuablethan the real values." ( The Letters ofa Post-Impressionist, transl. from theGerman by A. M. Ludovici, p. 23.) 39
  • 38. HINDU ART Rodin was charged with the crime ofbeing an "innovator" in art, for he in-troduced movement and action in stat-uary. His St. Jean Baptiste (1880) isa specimen in point, as also the inter-laced figures like the Hand of Godholding man and woman in embrace,Cupid and Psyche, Triton and Nereid,etc. In regard to this "new tech-nique," the representation of activity,we are told by Van Gogh that the "an-cients did not feel this need." "Torender the peasant form at work is," ashe reiterates, "the peculiar feature, thevery heart of modern art, and that issomething which was done neither bythe Renaissance painters nor the Dutchmasters, nor by the Greeks." {TheLetters, 22, 24.) It is thus clear why the theory andpractice that seek movement in art- 40
  • 39. HINDU ARTforms, appreciate an "incorrect" anat-omy, and look upon arbitrary propor-tions not as distortions but rather as"restorations," should find an affinitywith the work of the Hindu masters.And the psychology of this post-im-pressionist a.rt-credo is perfectly nat-ural, because like the previous pre-Raphaelitism and the still earlier ro-manticism, the new art movement is es-sentially a revolt. It is a reactionagainst the Academicians rule ofthumb. It is born of a Bolshevisticdiscontent with the things that be, andof a desire to search for truth andbeauty from far and old. This latest revolution against thestatus quo was brought about of artwhen Gauguin, the French master, con-ceived "the truth that the modern Eu-ropean and his like all over the globe, 4i
  • 40. HINDU ARTcould not and must not, be the type ofthe future. Any thing rather thanthat! Even black men and womenwere better than that — cannibals, idol-ators, savages, anything!" (Ludovi-cis introduction to The Letters, p. xii) . Such being their article of faith, con-temporary artists have been seized byWanderlust. To-day they draw theirinspiration from the Mexicans, May-ans, and other American-Indians, fromthe Negro art of the Congo regions,from Karnak and Nineveh, from theTanagras of Greece and the "primi-tives" of Italy. And they roll theireyes from "China to Peru." Conse-quently the Buddhist, Shaiva, Vaish-nava,Moghul, and Rajput art of theHindus could not but have been requi-sitioned to enlarge the list of the newOssians and Percys Reliques as whet- 42
  • 41. HINDU ARTters of the futuristic imagination in theWestern World. And the creative art endeavors ofYoung Indias futurists are neithermere calls for "Back to the Past" norharangues inciting to "Down with theWest," as superficial observers or pro-fessional spiritualitarians would seemto read in the literary proclamations ofthe school. These are but the initialsurgings of a dynamic shakti (energy)that had been pent up for a century anda half, — in its sadhana (effort) towardachieving the assimilation of this cos-mic neo-eclecticism of the modernworld; so that a synthetic stage of cul-tural sva-raj (self-determination) mayultimately evolve, on which Asia willbe enabled, as of old, freely to moveand to strive, to un-make and to make,—boldly to borrow and to lend as an in- 43
  • 42. HINDU ARTdependent unit in the bourse of spir-itual — exchange, unhampered to strug-gle, to experiment, to live. U
  • 43. THE LIBRARY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA I Santa Barbara ;THIS BOOK IS4DUE ON THE LAST DATE STAMPED DEC 21981
  • 44. Ljaulord —— - SPEEDY BINDER^ZZZ Syracuse, N. Y UC SOUTHERM REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY Stockton, Colif.1 AA 000 237 046 9 . ? * T>-

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