The Mother on Indian art

 

Here (in India), it is altogether different, for there is a tradition

of art which has remained, the whole country is full of

things which were made at a fine moment of the artistic history

of the country. One lives in its midst. One has hardly undergone

the after-effects of what happened in the rest of the world, above

all in Europe. Only those parts of India which are a little too

anglicised have lost the sense of beauty. There are certain schools

in Bombay, schools of artists, which are frightful. And then, there

was that attempt of the Calcutta School to revive Indian art, but

that was only on a very small scale. From the point of view of

art what you have most within your reach are the old creations,

the old temples, old pictures. All that was very good. And that

had been made to express a faith. And it was done precisely with

a sense of the whole, not in disorder.

You have followed very little of this movement of art I am

speaking about, which is related to European civilisation, it has

not been felt much here—just a little but not deeply. Here, the

majority of creations (this is a very good example), the majority

of works, I believe even almost all the beautiful works, are not

signed. All those paintings in the caves, those statues in the

temples—these are not signed. One does not know at all who

created them. And all this was not done with the idea of making

a name for oneself as at present. One happened to be a great

sculptor, a great painter, a great architect, and then that was all,

there was no question of putting one’s name on everything and

proclaiming it aloud in the newspapers so that no one might

forget it! In those days the artist did what he had to do without

caring whether his name would go down to posterity or not.

All was done in a movement of aspiration to express a higher

beauty, and above all with the idea of giving an appropriate

abode to the godhead who was evoked. In the cathedrals of the

Middle Ages, it was the same thing, and I don’t think that there

too the names of the artists who made them have remained. If

any are there, it is quite exceptional and it is only by chance that

the name has been preserved. Whilst today, there is not a tiny

little piece of canvas, painted or daubed, but on it is a signature

to tell you: it is Mr. So-and-so who made this!

Complete Works of the Mother Vol 5 p 340-341

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