Los Angeles

Tantric Works

Eugenia Butler Gallery

The relative importance of the show of 18th and 19th century Tantric Works at Eugenia Butler depends on whether art activity is measured by what’s being done or what’s being shown. Although my most constant interests are with the former, these 99 small, hand-done (in look as well as fact), water-base “mystical diagrams” form a substantive, contemplative exhibition which should have some small effect on current art production. The purpose buried in the works is one unfamiliar of late: to evoke God and/or magic, both through, aside from several graceful figurations, the defiant irrational in geometric conception.

The exhibition, however, is intended in part as a setting for the one “contemporary Tantric work” by an artist who prefers to be known as Trans-Parent Teachers, Inc. The piece consists of seven canvas panels, about five by seven feet each, placed so that the central openings (about one by four feet) are in a line. It’s made with Stella-like 3-inch bars, and situated back-to-back and belly-to-belly with the raw carpentry apparently part of the “look” of the piece. The thing is held upright by triangles of wire. As I understand it, Tantric art makes use of drugs and sexual stimulation, and, as I understand it, this contemporary piece contains a lot of one-to-one symbolism (the inverted V’s of wire stand for the temple, and I might guess that the openings have some sexual allusion, the front-and-back connote states of consciousness, etc.). The meaning of the piece, then, has to be got from associations, and the aura of associations in a La Cienega gallery are something else.

Peter Plagens