A Breathtaking Show Out to break a barrier – Om Prakash Sharma
Om Prakash is one of the foremost exponents of the indigenous art movement known as Tantra Art. The collective term puts under one banner some of the greatest contemporary Indian artists such as Biren De, Santosh, Profulla, Mamtani and Haridasan. There are other stalwarts who have been gravitating towards this genre, among them Raza. Right from the mid-60’s when this movement started to counter-balance the loose and amorphous abstract art movement that engulfed the West and threatened to overtake the East, it generated a controversy which has not exactly subsided. While this is no place to go into the details, a few points need to be mentioned in the interest of a proper appreciation of Tantra Art in general and Om Prakash’s works in particular. The Western abstract art is totally non-referenced. Historically, it represents the creative expression of a civilisation which had lost all its external props and whose value pattern had failed to sustain it. (World War I and II loom large in its back ground). Though abstract, whether based on strictly regular linear geometries or curvilinear or both, Tantra Art essentially is conceptual. Its superb self- confidence and regaling energies are rooted in what has come to be known as the holistic Indian tradition that brings vast and diversified reaches of the human mind into unison via music, philosophy, poetry, architecture and sculpture; even astronomy. It seeks what has been the perennial seeking of science: truth. It expounds Dharma in its connotation as law shorn of all sentimentality, prejudice and emotion. Past the iconic, it goes back to the non-iconic, but it offers glints and glances even in the iconic. Fritjof Capra realized it in the dance of Shiva. Divest the Tanjore Bronzes of every recognisable form and feature save their geometries; what remains is Tantra, the path of rhythmic pulses that interweave the whole universe into an indivisible unity so perfect that Eesha Upanishad even states : “Take Perfect from Perfect, the remainder is Perfect”. Everywhere in the infinite variety of forms is the ordered, concatenated moves of force concealed in the physiognomies of Nature bringing intimations of symmetry and music. Howsoever complicated and beyond ordinary human comprehension its move, the architectonic quality of the internal moves of force recalls with Om Prakash a musical scale; often as elaborate and multidimensional as in the four large Mandalas in which a sort of genetic memory seems to govern the onward moves as beautifully as a tree grows out of a seed. On the other hand, this inner move can be superbly direct and succinct as in the works titled Madhyam. What we witness is a breathtaking insight into the reality underlying the mask of its superstructure. It is not an external approach and it has nothing in common with the cubistic attitude, for instance, which, let it not be forgotten, is still an outward reach, howsoever evolved in the European context. Om Prakash, in other words, is trying to demolish the barrier between sound and light. His deep knowledge of music and daily practice on the sitar make the task not only easier but enjoyable. To generate awareness of the inner truth of reality, sound, through a medium which essentially is optical is by no means an ordinary undertaking. It demands a deep, intuitive understanding of the chemistry of colour. It is a higher kind of dedication and sadhana.
Late – K.L. Kaul, The Statesman, New Delhi, 7 December 1988