Text Decoded

Artist: Jagdish Swaminathan (India, 1928-1994)
Historical period(s)
Oil and wax on canvas
H x W (overall): 114.8 x 170.4 cm (45 3/16 x 67 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Mahinder and Sharad Tak
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

Provenance research underway.

Jagdish Swaminathan painted with the goal of incorporating tribal and folk elements into a modernist idiom. While this painting's abstract forms, large size, and oil medium place it within an international context, its geometric images and earth tones evoke the designs that often decorate the walls and floors of South Asian village homes. Swaminathan mixed wax into pigment and scored it deeply with a sharp tool to create the work's richly textured central section. Inscriptions of the Devanagari alphabet's first letter, ka, in the upper color field mirror the suns drawn at bottom. The pairing invites us to reflect upon the relationship between culture and nature. 

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 202-203.
Collection Area(s)
Contemporary Art, South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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