Towards Ananda: Rethinking Indian Art and Aesthetics

· Random House India

About this ebook

Anyone who knows India is aware of its sophisticated aesthetic philosophy and equally rich history of making everyday things beautiful. Yet, most Indians, and travellers to India, have also experienced the great contrast between its ingrained beauty and its contemporary ugliness. Towards Ananda examines the many reasons for such a paradox, with particular focus on the visual arts. Unlike most books on Indian art and aesthetics which emphasize the ‘glorious past’ of the classical traditions, this one is centred on the present and the future—on contemporary art and its place in the emerging global art world. The author explores ancient theories of aesthetics in the light of contemporary challenges, and journeys across the country to distil the complex forces which have shaped Indian aesthetics. He also gives us an overview of Western ideologies and art movements, and their conflict with Eastern perspectives. In the course of the narrative, the author illustrates the application of the aesthetic values of balance, rhythm, harmony and proportionality in art—as also in economics, development strategies, health, education, city planning, architecture, and product design. Though the primary focus is India, the issues discussed, of purpose and practice, content and context, market forces and institutions, extend to all societies that are becoming homogenized by globalization. A book that engages the reader both intellectually and emotionally, Towards Ananda is a seamless chain of ideas about the production and consumption of art in modern times. As an insider’s view of the art world, it offers valuable insights into how artists see, think and work. And since art can never be separate from the experience of reality, it is also a provocative commentary on the state and society that we are a part of.

About the author

Shakti Maira is an internationally renowned artist, sculptor, writer and thinker. He has had 25 one-person shows, the first of which was in 1973 in Mumbai. Since then, his work has been exhibited and collected around the world. Shakti has recently completed a set of 12 six-foot-high bronze sculpture ??? The Sangha. He has also written and spoken extensively on art, aesthetics, education, and beauty, and is the author of Towards Ananda: Rethinking Indian Art and Aesthetics published in 2006 by Penguin/Viking. He has been engaging in a series of Beauty Dialogues with scientists, philosophers and environmentalists, and is co-organizer of an international conference, The End of Art and The Promise of Beauty, in February 2012.

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