As she compared the erotic myths of India with those of the West, Marguerite Yourcenar stressed that sensual delight was freely unfurled in the former case while it was always tinged with tragic elements in the latter one –Krishna among shepherdesses, vs. Dionysus, Orpheus, The Good Shepherd etc. It is obvious, throughout that comparative work, that sculpture in India happens to better convey, make feel and impart sensual delight than any other art, which leads her to note that “the more a typically Hindu sensitiveness developed in art, the more the expression of its forms was pervaded with eroticism”. So much for India. How about the West ? In the Christian world, there was no expression of sensual delight, save in its mystical forms (“The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” by Bernini) or in its repentance-displaying forms (The Magdalen). Yet, after the Renaissance, artists could express the poetry of senses in the margins of society and of its licences, using “myth or legend-relating alibis”, or else, “putting a shielding varnish of esthetical theories upon their works”; it climaxed with Rodin. Who knows to what extend modernity, which freed itself from Christianity and mythological alibis in 20th century art – did not result in a brutal void, a depression, a demotivation, a dis-location, thus an absence ? But who knows, as well, if sculptors, once they have gone through such releasing and sifting, are not going to allow the best of sensual delight to come back and be forcefully expressed as one of virtues inherent in men and women, something deeper and more decisive that ideas and myths –as the chief virtue of sculpture ?
(Translated by Michèle Bustros)