In 1966 Jadish Swaminathan and Octavio Paz published the magazine Contra, which included critical articles concerning the overbearing influence of the Paris School on the work of the Progressive Artist Group. In 1947 critic Clement Greenberg reviewed Jackson Pollock and Jean Dubuffet advocating American superiority over the easel painters and traditionalists from Europe. The 1940’s split between the American Abstract Expressionists' interest in mystical primitivism versus the figurative preoccupation of European painters is similar to the diverse views and approaches of Swaminathan and the Progressives in India, two decades later. In stark contrast to the Progressives, Swaminathan’s paintings of the 60’s were imbued with symbols drawn from Indian tribal art and a desire to combine art and craft; he used sticks to draw through paint applied with fingertips. This painting is a classic example inspired by tribal symbolism, a simple but powerful dedication to Shiva; the central triangle representing the Holy mountain Arunachala flanked by Shiva’s trident and a lingam scratched into a stippled textured earthen red ground reminiscent of cave painting.
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