Intersection – Mansaram & McLuhan



Marshall McLuhan & P. Mansaram at the opening of Mansaram’s “Rear View Mirror” Exhibition at the Picture Loan Gallery in Toronto, 1974

Marshall McLuhan: Art Critic & Friend   –   by Scott McGovern

The artist P. Mansaram immigrated to Canada from India in 1966. In Toronto, Mansaram exhibited at the Picture Loan Gallery and also organized happenings at the Isaacs Gallery. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, his art was both inspired by and, indeed, sometimes created in collaboration with Marshall McLuhan.  The men became friends. Eventually, Mansaram’s art inspired the influential media theorist to do a bit of friendly art writing.

In June, Ed Video [ in Guelph, Ontario] brought the two men and their collaboration together again in the exhibition “Intersection-Mansaram & McLuhan.” Featured in the show was Mansaram’s Rear View Mirror collage series (1966-72), and prominent among these works was a collaborative collage that combines elements of Eastern and Western cultures. The theme is their bond – something central to Mansaram’s work and likely to McLuhan’s theories.

A surround-sound audio installation also broadcast an interview Mansaram conducted with McLuhan in 1967. In it, McLuhan is heard quipping about film, music, the hippie movement in Yorkville, the psychedellic experience and how electronic communication has changed the perception of time and space. And among texts and photos included in the show is a typed letter by McLuhan dated January 17, 1973. In it, he comes to terms with the values he shares with Mansaram. He writes:

“The work of Mansaram presents a natutal dialogue between the cultures of the East and of the West. His Oriental frame of reference and sensibility … brings many forms and many media to participate in one another. Mansaram’s cosmopolitan perception enables him to entertain Western leit motifs easily and naturally. As the West loses its intense visual preference and enters the iconic world of sculptural and acoustic values, the painterly and graphic idiom of India gains steadily in Western habits of acceptance. The work of Mansaram brings the mosaic forms of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce to the Orient in the very moment and by the same means that Mansaram enables us to contemplate the Orient as a variant modality of The Waste Land. In short, Mansarm is a kind of two-way mirror, living simultaneously in the divided and distinguished worlds of the East and West”.

That’s some exceptional art writing from an influential voice who also happened to be a great friend. – from CANADIAN ART, Winter 2012, p. 152.

The collaborative collage of McLuhan and Mansaram was previously featured in this blog on August 6, 2012 and can be accessed at .                                                

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