Prabhakar Barwe

Yantra III, 1964

Image for Yantra III, 1964

Prabhakar Barwe, born in Maharashtra, was the son of a Bombay film-industry artist and grand-nephew of the celebrated sculptor V. P. Karmarkar. Deeply influenced by Tantra, which he was exposed to while living in the holy city of Varanasi from 1961 to 1965, he is best known today for his abstract symbolist works whose forms draw from the unconscious. In that respect he was influenced early on by Paul Klee, whose art he came to know while a student at the Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay (graduating in 1959).

Yantra is a Sankrit term referring to the geometric cosmograms used in Tantric practice, a branch of mystical Indic philosophy. A yantra functions as a focus of worship and meditation as well as a formal, aesthetic expression of divine power. The Devanagiri script that dots the painting functions more as a formal gesture than as letters signifying words. Barwe often used forms with rich associations—from scripts to yantras to everyday items such as playing cards—and divested them of their meanings, employing them as formal yet meditative expressions.

Prabhakar Barwe, born in Maharashtra, was the son of a Bombay film-industry artist and grand-nephew of the celebrated sculptor V. P. Karmarkar. Deeply influenced by Tantra, which he was exposed to while living in the holy city of Varanasi from 1961 to 1965, he is best known today for his abstract symbolist works whose forms draw from the unconscious. In that respect he was influenced early on by Paul Klee, whose art he came to know while a student at the Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay (graduating in 1959).

Yantra is a Sankrit term referring to the geometric cosmograms used in Tantric practice, a branch of mystical Indic philosophy. A yantra functions as a focus of worship and meditation as well as a formal, aesthetic expression of divine power. The Devanagiri script that dots the painting functions more as a formal gesture than as letters signifying words. Barwe often used forms with rich associations—from scripts to yantras to everyday items such as playing cards—and divested them of their meanings, employing them as formal yet meditative expressions.

Medium Watercolor, ink, and silver paper on paper
Dimensions 20 3/8 x 30 3/8 in.
Credit Line Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection
Donor Gift of Abby Weed Grey
Object ID G1975.152

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Collection Years: 1964