Permanent Home of the ANONYMOUS SHIVA LINGA PAINTINGS HUDSON COLLECTION
IOWA CONTEMPORARY ART   |   58 North Main Street, Fairfield, IA 52556   |   641-469-6252   |   bill@icon-art.org GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday through Thursday, 12:00 to 5:00pm, Friday and Saturday, 1:00 to 4:30pm and by appointment. ICON is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity. All donations are tax-deductible. IOWA CONTEMPORARY ART   |   58 North Main Street, Fairfield, IA 52556   |   641-919-6252   |   bill@icon-art.org ICON is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity. All donations are tax-deductible. This exhibition has been made possible by the generous donation of the Hudson Collection  to ICON’s permanent collection by Patricia Hudson, James Hudson, and Thomas Hudson, and by major support provided by David T. Hanson, the Fairfield Cultural Alliance, and the Fairfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Janet and Bill Teeple, Patricia and Thomas Hudson, and David T. Hanson 1. Udaïpur, 1966, 12.75 x 8.25" 2. Sanganer & New Delhi, 2000, 13.75 x 10" 3. Sikar, 2003, 13.75 x 9.25" 12. Udaïpur, 2000, 12.25 x 9.25" 4. Near Udaïpur, 1970, 16 x 10.75" 5. Samode, 1982, 14.25 x 9.75" 6. Jaïpur, 1986, 13.5 x 10.5" 7. Jodhpur, 1991, 12.5 x 7.5" 9. Jaïpur, 1995, 13.75 x 9.25" 8. Ajmer, 1994, 14.5 x 9.75" 10. Chômu, 1979, 14 x 8.75"
IOWA CONTEMPORARY ART
The Hudson Collection
14. Untitled (white rectangle), gouache on antique Indian paper, 5.25 x 7", 2013 15. Untitled (The Galaxy), gouache on antique Indian paper,  6.5 x 4", 2013 16. Assi Ghat. gouache on antique Indian paper 9.5 x 7", 2003
Click on separate paintings in this photo to enlarge.
Paintings 13.-22.  by Charlotte Cain: 14. Untitled (white rectangle), gouache on antique Indian paper, 5.25 x 7", 2013 15. Untitled (The Galaxy), gouache on antique Indian paper,  6.5 x 4", 2013 16. Assi Ghat, gouache on antique Indian paper 9.5 x 7", 2003 17. Sachamama #1, gouache and mineral pigment on antique paper, 23.5 x 7.1", 2010 18. Bindu Dance (Spring), gouache on antique Indian paper, 11.5  x 7.5", 2003 19. Untitled (Chandra Ma), gouache on antique Indian paper, 6.5 x 4" 2013 20. Untitled (Living Vine), gouache on antique Indian paper,  5.75 x 5.5", 2013 21. Banarasi Kriti, #1, mineral pigments on paper, 8 x 8", 2007 22. One Step at a Time #17, gouache on antique Indian paper 8.4 x 8.4", 2004 23. Chandra Lila Chandra Ma #5, gouache on antique Indian paper, 8 x 8", 2006
17.  Sachamama #1, gouache and mineral pigment on antique paper, 18. Bindu Dance (Spring), gouache on antique Indian paper, 11.5  x 7.5", 2003 19. Untitled (Chandra Ma), gouache on antique Indian paper, 6.5 x 4" 2013 20. Untitled (Living Vine), gouache on antique Indian paper, 5.75 x 5.5", 2013 21. Banarasi Kriti, #1, mineral pigments on paper, 8 x 8", 2007 22. One Step at a Time #17, gouache on antique Indian paper, 8.4 x 8.4", 2004 23. Chandra Lila Chandra Ma #5, gouache on antique Indian paper, 8 x 8", 2006
Click on separate paintings in this photo to enlarge.
This exhibition brings together a selection of anonymous Shiva Linga paintings from ICON’s Hudson Collection, five anonymous Tantra paintings from the collection of David T. Hanson, and a group of Tantra-inspired paintings by Charlotte Cain. The Shiva Linga paintings shown here reproduce the selection and sequence of images chosen by Hudson and Feature Inc. to represent the entire collection of 71 anonymous Shiva Linga paintings on the gallery’s website. All of the Shiva Linga paintings are anonymous and untitled. The artists use various media (watercolor, tempera, gouache, ink, hand-made colors) on found paper. The location of the artist in India, the date of the painting, and the dimensions are listed below.
An exhibition organized by David T. Hanson October 1, 2021–August 26, 2022
  1. Udaïpur, 1966, 12.75 x 8.25"   2. Sanganer & New Delhi, 2000, 13.75 x 10"   3. Sikar, 2003, 13.75 x 9.25"   4. Near Udaïpur, 1970, 16 x 10.75"   5. Samode, 1982, 14.25 x 9.75"   6. Jaïpur, 1986, 13.5 x 10.5"   7. Jodhpur, 1991, 12.5 x 7.5"   8. Ajmer, 1994, 14.5 x 9.75"   9. Jaïpur, 1995, 13.75 x 9.25"  10. Chômu, 1979, 14 x 8.75"  11. Jaïpur, 1999, 12.75 x 9"  12. Udaïpur, 2000, 12.25 x 9.25"
  13. David T. Hanson and Allen Cobb, Anonymous Shiva Linga Paintings/ 1,000 Names of Shiva, 2014/2017, HD video, color, sound, 48 minutes.
Twelve anonymous Shiva Linga paintings
The five anonymous Tantra paintings were acquired by David T. Hanson from Franck André Jamme. The artists use various media (watercolor, tempera, gouache, ink, hand-made colors) on found paper. The location of the artist in India, the date of the painting, and the dimensions are listed below, along with the title provided by Franck André Jamme. 24. Near Udaïpur, 2000 [“Black on Black Kali, The Black One”], 12.5 x 10.5" 25. Jodhpur, 1990 [“Black Kali Pursuing Red Shiva”], 9.25 x 12.25" 26. Sanganer, 2012 [“Three Mnemonic Blue Circles”], 13.75 x 8.5" 27. Jaïpur, 1996 [“The Birth of Speech”], 13.5 x 8.75" 28. Jaïpur, 2009 [“Pure Consciousness”], 13.75 x 8.75"
Five anonymous Tantra paintings This exhibition is dedicated to Franck André Jamme (1947-2020) Franck André Jamme was a French poet, artist, and translator. Acclaimed by Edmond Jabès, Henri Michaux,  and René Char, and translated by John Ashbery, Jamme published numerous poems and fragments, as well as multiple limited-edition illustrated books. A specialist of Indian Tantric, Brut, and Tribal art, he was also  praised for his work as an international curator.  Working with Hudson and Feature Inc., Jamme assembled  the series of Anonymous Shiva Linga Paintings in the Hudson Collection. We are deeply indebted to  Franck André Jamme.   “Never in the universal history of painting have works been produced that are both  so mysterious and simple, so powerful and pure... a bit as if, with these works, man’s  genius had been able to assemble almost everything in almost nothing.” –Franck André Jamme Excerpts from Franck André Jamme’s last interview, September 2020,  “Only This Glow Remained” (by Amy Hilton, TL Magazine)  TLmag: You have travelled many times to India. Let us circle over to these  extraordinary abstract Tantric paintings that you are known for introducing into the  West. How did you discover them?  F.A.J.: I first discovered them through literature. Originally, it was at a bookshop in  Paris where I found a small gallery catalogue about an exhibition that had been held  some years before. The catalogue opened with two texts: one written by Henri  Michaux, the other by Octavio Paz. I discovered something existed in India that was  totally abstract, with such simple shapes and symbols, inside such a baroque  culture. I absolutely wanted to know more about this Tantric art. But I realized that  there was next to no information published about the meaning of these paintings.  So, I decided to go to India in search of them. But the first few trips were  unsuccessful. It took twenty years for us to find each other.   TLmag: Why so little information?  F.A.J.: Because of bad climate conditions, monsoons, rats, insects, careless  conservation… not many survived. Certainly, some of these paintings did exist  before the 17th century, but we don’t have proof of that. And, even the Indians don’t  have real access to Tantrism itself. It is a kind of small secret society in Hinduism. All  is enriched by secrets and a hidden world.  TLmag: Tantrism, as it is known in the West, has been used in quite diverse ways  throughout history to mean various things for different people. It defies easy definition.   F.A.J.: Tantrism is so deep. And, yes, it is not very well understood in the West.  Because, as usual, Westerners think about the parts of it, which often have a close  relationship with sex or eroticism. This is a very important point: a body of thought  that has cosmic sexuality included at its own heart. But there are so many other  parts to it. There is a main part of it about language. The mantras. The Tantrikas are  the kings of mantras. This became so interesting for me. Because of the language.   TLmag: I have read that the ‘way of Tantra’ involves a highly individuated personal  research enquiry: a personalized ontological journey. Essentially, each person finds  her or his own ‘way’.  F.A.J.: You know, I was very lucky. Because a terrible thing happened to me on my  way. On one of my research trips in India I was involved in a terrible road accident  where the bus I was traveling in hit a lorry coming the other way. Around me, almost  everyone died. And the irony of the thing is that I would not have had any access to  the families who were making these little wonders without this accident. It opened  another door… After the accident I was petrified of going back, but with the help of  some friends in Paris, I decided to return three years later. A friend told me to go and  see a soothsayer. A sort of guru. I met the man, and it was one of the strangest  meetings with another human being I have ever had in my life. He looked like a fox.  Really. A pure fox. I told him I wanted to continue my research, but I was so terrified  to do so. He asked me to wash my hands in a large jar of sand. He stared at the  patterns and read the shapes in the sand, made by my hands. They do that in Africa  also. It is a kind of divination… And then he told me that I had paid my tribute to the  deity, to the goddess. He told me I could go ahead with my research. But secretly. I  could show these paintings in the West, but on two conditions. First condition, I  could sell the pieces but only for enough to earn my own living, not to become rich.  Second condition, he said when I would go to meet the families who were making  this art, I must go alone or only with the one I love. He was standing at the door with  a foxy smile and, just as I was about to leave, he wrote down two names and  addresses on a little piece of paper, and kindly handed it to me. I truly thought that I  was going to leave without what I was supposed to find. But he handed me the key.  And I immediately went to the first address. And so, it began like that.   TLmag: Can you expand on the creation of these paintings?  F.A.J.: They were originally illustrations that accompanied hand-written manuscripts.  Over time, they were copied out separately from the texts. Their purpose was to be  used as tools to meditate, to connect with cosmic forces in the larger universe. It is  important to remember that they are made anonymously by people who would not  describe themselves as artists. They do not think for a minute that they are artists…  They are just continuing the tradition of the family. What is so inspiring to me is that if  I send them a commission for a piece, I sometimes receive it one year later. There is  absolutely no rush for them to receive money quickly. And I love that. I really love  that. It is very important for me. They do not react quickly at all. Another thing that  inspires me – this is not at all a patriarchal tradition. There are so many women  painting these pieces. And this is so rare in India. As they are anonymous, we would  never know this.  TLmag: They are so akin to poetry. Visual poetry. I am interested in the actual spark  of creative transmission. These simple geometric shapes: ovals, squares, circles,  triangles. The choice of colours…  F.A.J.: They paint them according to an endless schema, constantly repeated and  passed on from generation to generation in each family. Like a raga in their music –  you start with the scale and then improvise. You have five or six notes for one raga,  but you can play it as you like. You just need to respect the original five or six notes.  They do not vary too much.  When they make these paintings, it is also very much like Indian music – it depends  very much on a feeling at a certain moment, on their inside mood. They are not  going to paint a very powerful and red image if they are in a breezy mindset, if you  know what I mean. It is an inner gesture each time.   TLmag: “Never in the universal history of painting,” you once wrote, “have works  been produced that are both so mysterious and simple, so powerful and pure… a bit  as if, with these works, man’s genius had been able to assemble almost everything  in almost nothing.” They are jarringly affective.  F.A.J.: They are. They vibrate. A Shiva Linga on fire. So full of energy, it is burning.   TLmag: Curiously, I do not see one of them exhibited here in your house.  F.A.J.: It is funny, but yes, I do not have a single piece on my walls. Because  I have been very prudent with these pieces, you know. In a sense I do not want to  show them too much. And certainly, I do not want to see them too much. In a very  strange way, I do not like the idea of possessing them. They are much stronger than  me. They could possess me, but I could not possess them. I do my best for them.  They know that I have done my best for them, for a long time now. They are friends.  Maybe I need their energy. Perhaps they could help. Nevertheless, I am so happy to  have met this art. You have no idea how truly happy it has made me.
More about the Hudson Collection This inaugural installation in ICON’s Hudson Collection Gallery features the Anonymous Shiva Linga Paintings exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of the 2013 Venice Biennale and associate director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. For the Biennale installation, Gioni selected 31 paintings from the series of 71 Anonymous Shiva Linga Paintings assembled by Franck André Jamme and Feature Inc., New York. ICON’s exhibition duplicates the selection and sequence of the paintings at the Biennale. The Shiva Linga is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Vedic god Shiva as an eternal cosmic pillar of fire, the first and final form of all creation. The three-dimensional stones and two-dimensional drawings of the Linga are considered by devotees to be not mere representations of Shiva but rather the sacred embodiment of the Divinity. These Shiva Linga paintings on found paper are made anonymously in India (primarily in Rajasthan) by practitioners of Tantrism—some of whom are artists—to represent and embody fundamental aspects of Tantra, a vast and complex spiritual and philosophical practice. Made to awaken heightened consciousness, these devotional images are used for visualization and meditation as part of Tantra’s spiritual practices. While the images are centuries old with highly codified forms and colors, the paintings are filled with such a high level of the artists’ intentionality that they continually appear fresh and alive. The French poet/scholar André Padoux has described these images as “painted silences. . . the simple revelation of pure consciousness.” According to French poet Franck André Jamme, who has played an instrumental role in bringing these paintings to western audiences, the tantrikas who create them work in a focused state of mental rapture. Despite their expression of an unbroken, centuries-old tradition, the works in this exhibition (made between 1966 and 2004) seem both timeless and utterly contemporary. They also possess a remarkable affinity with examples of twentieth-century abstract art. The progeny of hand-written, illustrated religious treatises from the seventeenth century, copied across many generations, these paintings are part of a distinct visual lexicon that confounds assumed differences between East and West, the spiritual and the aesthetic, the ancient and the modern. This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Hudson, founder and director of the New York art gallery Feature Inc. The Hudson Collection has been very generously donated to ICON’s permanent collection by Patricia Hudson, James Hudson, and Thomas Hudson.