Anyone who knows India is aware of its sophisticated aesthetic philosophy and equally rich history of making everyday things beautiful. Yet, most Indians, and travelers to India, are familiar with the great contrast that exists between its ingrained beauty and contemporary ugliness. Towards Ananda examines the many reasons for this paradox, with particular focus on the visual arts.
Unlike most books on Indian arts and aesthetics, with 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 narrative, he illustrates the application of aesthetics values of balance, rhythm, harmony and proportionality in art - as also in economics, development strategies, health, education, city planning, architecture and product design. Through 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 e are a part of.
About the Author:
Shakti Maira is an artist and sculptor. He has had twenty-four one-person shows in India, the US in Europe. His work can be found at National Gallery of Modern Art, India, in collection belonging to leading corporate houses and in private collections around the world. Maria also writes on arts, aesthetics, culture and travel for newspapers and magazines in India and abroad. He is interested in children's education and development through art, and has conducted numerous workshops in schools in the US and India. In 2005 he help organize the 'Learning through the Arts in Asia' symposium in New Delhi, and was subsequently invited by UNESCO to prepare the Asian vision statement for 'Arts in Education: Learning through the Arts.'
Shakti Maira lives in New Delhi.
Experts from Review:
'It is rare to have an opportunity to see both Indian and international art and aesthetics through the contemporary mind and experiences of a thinking and articulate artist.'
- From the Foreword by Kapila Vatsyayam
'It is a great book: provocative, controversial and challenging. I hope everyone interested in Indian art will read it.'
- Satish Kumar, Editor, Resurgence
'To integrate spirit and matter in an aesthetics presentation that opens the viewer to an integral moment is remarkable enough. But what is truly astonishing about Shakti's work is the depth to which that intension is realized. Shakti is the finest integral artist now working in the fields of painting and sculptures.'
- Ken Wilber, author of The Eye of Spirit and A Theory of Everything
'Maria sees the central purpose of art as a precious means of transcendence. This prophetic view will probably outlast the iconoclasm and faddism that defines art and aesthetics in contemporary India.'
- Anjolie Ela Menon, artist
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