The Temple

Mohan Samant Indian

Not on view

From 1947 to 1952, Samant studied at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai, where he was exposed to a colonial curriculum, copying plaster casts of classical sculpture and studying Indian miniature painting. The latter, particularly Basohli painting, aided the development of his own aesthetic sensibilities. During this time, Samant visited numerous historic sites in India, familiarizing himself with the classical arts of the country, which provided images and motifs that he would reference throughout his career. In 1957, he was awarded a cultural exchange scholarship to Rome, sponsored by the Italian government. He also befriended an Egyptian painter with whom he travelled to Egypt, where he was influenced by hieroglyphics on temple walls and objects. A Rockefeller scholarship brought Samant to New York from 1959 to 1964, and in 1968, he moved permanently to New York.

The Temple was created in the mid to late 1970s when Samant’s imagery and techniques became more complex. By 1975, he had begun to alter the surface of his paintings in a new and unusual way, attaching swatches of cut and folded paper that had been drawn and painted on. The attachments were labyrinths of raised, twisted, folded, cut and colored constructions. In The Temple, the paper cut outs alternate rhythmically with painted areas, which stand out as highly textured. The figures encased in rectangles resemble ancient Egyptian mummies, but also bring to mind Paul Klee’s Mural from the Temple of Longing ↖Thither↗, 1922 (MMA 1984.315.33).

The Temple, Mohan Samant (Indian, Mumbai 1924–2004 New York), Cut and folded papers, marker, paint, and sand on canvas

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