Category Archives: Canada

Singaporean billionaire plans to build Asian art museum in Vancouver

Chuck Chiang
Vancouver Sun, April 19, 2017 | Last Updated: April 19, 2017 4:20 PM PDT

One of Southeast Asia’s richest men, and a part-time Vancouver resident, wants to build a “world-class” museum dedicated to Asian and Buddhist art in the city.

Oei Hong Leong, who is ranked by Forbes as the 19th richest man in Singapore with a personal net worth of $1.2 billion, usually keeps a low profile in Vancouver. But he said in a rare interview Wednesday that he wants to go public with the museum proposal because he believes it could be a significant cultural addition to Vancouver and B.C.

“I love Vancouver,” said Oei, who is currently in Singapore but will return to B.C. in June. “I want to do my part to contribute. The thing about Buddhism is that I don’t view it so much as a religion as it is a personal philosophy, a way by which to live life. It’s about peace and harmony, and it’s a perfect fit to what we have in Vancouver.”

Oei started collecting Buddhist artifacts 40 years ago and now has 50,000 pieces in his personal collection, some of which are housed in a private museum in Singapore. The billionaire said he is not sure if the museum he imagines for Vancouver would house some of his personal collection or pieces from other sources.

He would like to start building in 2018, with completion three years later. No cost figure has been announced.

“It’s too early to discuss where and what, because a lot of it still depends on discussions with municipal officials,” Oei said, noting he will meet with City of Vancouver planners in June. “But I’d like to have the opportunity to do something for the community.”

The possibility of an Asian art museum in Vancouver has been discussed by several groups in recent years. In addition to Centre A (the Vancouver International Centre of Contemporary Asian Art), proponents such as West Vancouver philanthropist Robert H.N. Ho and China’s Poly Culture Group have put forward ideas for a museum dedicated to Chinese art. Continue reading

Exhibition: Buddhist Arts of Asia

Buddha in Meditation, Indian | 3rd century CE, Gandhara period | Grey Schist | Evelyn Horton Bequest | AGGV 2009.004.001

Buddha in Meditation, Indian | 3rd century CE, Gandhara period | Grey Schist | Evelyn Horton Bequest | AGGV 2009.004.001

MAY 22, 2015 TO AUG 30, 2015

Follow the path of Buddha (the Enlightened One) and gain an understanding of one of the world’s great religions. Buddhist Arts of Asia traces the styles and influences of Buddhist art through various countries of Asia. Over 100 paintings, sculptures and ritual objects from our permanent collection will be exhibited. Several recent acquisitions will be shown.

Buddhism originated in India five centuries before Christ. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama of the Sakya tribe, was born around 563 BCE in northern India (at a place now inside the border of present-day Nepal). In the centuries after his death, Buddhism spread far beyond its origins in India to most of Asia. It became the single common philosophical thread that provided a cultural unity which linked the Asian world, from India to Southeast Asia and through Central Asia to China, Korea and Japan. Buddhism, which promised personal salvation, answered a spiritual need not found in the existing local religions and philosophies. Buddhism believes in rebirth and maintains that individual life was one of a series in which life was conditioned by the moral value of deeds (called karma) performed in a previous existence. By bringing a developed system of morals Buddhism brought about great changes in Asia.


“Creating Buddhas” screening: Vancouver

“Creating Buddhas”: The documentary spotlights the work of Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo, one of the few westerners trained in the Buddhist art of silk appliqué thangkas, which are vibrantly colored, hand-sewn sacred fabric scrolls that act as objects for meditation and reflection. The 60-minute film explores her apprenticeship in Dharmasala, India; the step-by-step process of producing a fabric thangka; and the history and spiritual significance of the art form. Over the course of the film, Rinchen-Wongmo is seen making a thangka of the female Buddha, Tara. After the film, Rinchen-Wongmo will answer questions. 7 p.m. June 2, Century Theatres, 555 E. Main St., Ventura. $15 general, $10 FOTM members. 653-2501;

Movie preview: Edmonton filmmaker explores diversity in Brothers in the Buddha

Michael Nguyen, left, then a 17-year-old student at McNally High School, is featured in the film, Brothers in the Buddha. Photograph by: Supplied

Michael Nguyen, left, then a 17-year-old student at McNally High School, is featured in the film, Brothers in the Buddha.
Photograph by: Supplied


Movie preview: Edmonton filmmaker explores diversity in Brothers in the Buddha

EDMONTON – When Beth Wishart MacKenzie taught world religion at the University of Alberta, she visited a local Buddhist monastery and decided a film about an aspiring monk could educate Edmontonians about the diversity within.

Her locally shot and produced film, Brothers in the Buddha, follows Michael Nguyen, then age 17, as he goes between meditations at the Truc Lam Monastery on 97th Street and 113th Avenue and chemistry classes and basketball games at McNally High School in Forest Heights.

Wishart MacKenzie’s film explores how Nguyen knew he wanted to become a monk and wear yellow robes at age five, eventually moving from Toronto to Edmonton at age 10 to study under Thay (or Master) Phap Hoa.

“He chose that himself. That’s what was fascinating to me,” Wishart MacKenzie said. Nguyen is the only child of Huong Tran and Dy Nguyen, boat people who escaped Vietnam and Communism in 1981 to start a new life in Canada. The couple had a difficult time saying goodbye to their son when he joined the monastery and agreed to never marry. Buddhist monks must look after all citizens, without prioritizing family, the film describes. Continue reading

Asian art in spotlight with VAG’s new exhibition The Forbidden City

UBC’s Timothy Brook discusses Emperor Qianlong the 4th emperor of the Qing Dynasty during a preview of The Forbidden City (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

UBC’s Timothy Brook discusses Emperor Qianlong the 4th emperor of the Qing Dynasty during a preview of The Forbidden City
(John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Oct. 16 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

It feels like a big moment for Asian art in Vancouver as the landmark exhibition The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday.

The exhibition, organized by the Royal Ontario Museum and Beijing’s Palace Museum, is monumental: nearly 200 objects – 80 of which were not part of the exhibition at the ROM earlier this year – that tell the story of life inside the Forbidden City, in particular during the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperors Kangxi (who ruled 1662-1722), Yongzheng (1722-1735) and Qianlong (1735-1796).

“These three men really define what China became by the time it entered the 20th century – large, wealthy and powerful,” said UBC’s Timothy Brook, one of the co-ordinating curators for the VAG presentation, during a preview tour Thursday.

At that event, VAG director Kathleen Bartels announced a new Institute of Asian Art, which will expand the VAG’s focus on art from the region. “I think we’re going to be doing much more Asian programming in the future, really reflecting the communities of British Columbia,” Ms. Bartels told The Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, the head of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, which provided $1-million to bring the exhibition to Toronto and Vancouver, is moving ahead with his vision to establish a permanent museum for Asian art in Vancouver through the group he co-founded, China Global: The Vancouver Society for the Promotion of Chinese Arts and Culture.

(This is a big month for the foundation. In Vancouver on Friday, UBC is renaming its Buddhist studies chair and program The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Chair in Buddhism and Contemporary Society, and the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society. Meanwhile at the Guggenheim in New York, Wang Jianwei: Time Temple, the first of the museum’s contemporary Chinese art exhibitions supported by a Ho Foundation initiative, is set to open Oct. 31.) Continue reading

Canadian Buddhist funerary art

stupa-348x1024From Sumeru books website

Here are some examples of modern Canadian Buddhist funerary art, from the Chinese sections of the cemetery near where I work.

I would be very interested in posting photos of other such monuments in cities across the country…

The first two pictures are of a section marker for the Canadian Chinese Buddhist Ming Yuet Temple. The next few pictures are a multi-part installation of Bodhisattvas emerging from the earth (Ksitigarbha/Jizo?). Photos © Karma Yönten Gyatso 2014


[link] Continue reading

Buddhist Art Exhibition, Toronto / June 9-22


from Sumeru Books website

The Canada Wisdom Compassion Centre, in association with the Prajna Temple, the Bodhi Association Canada and the Buddhist Terma Foundation, sponsored by the Respon International Group, presents their second Buddhist Culture & Art Show.

The exhibits include Buddhist painting, calligraphy, thangkas, ancient classics, musical instruments, 3D works and more.

The event runs June 9 – 22, between 10 am and 4 pm. For further information, contact the CWCC at 416-692-6386 or visit

The Prajna Temple is located at 781 Warden Avenue, Toronto.


Free ebook: The Walker

The Walker: A Tale of Mindfulness, Loss and ResilienceA Buddhist monk of Japanese origin, trained in mindfulness, moves to Canada. Near his small apartment in Quebec City is a park, a real little urban oasis located by a high school. The monk takes a contemplative stroll there everyday; all is light and harmony, until…

The book is available for free download at all Amazon sites, including this one.

To learn more about the author, follow the [link].

Dance: Peacefulness comes at a price

Montreal Gazette
14 March 2014

Dance: Peacefulness comes at a price

Dancers sift through three tonnes of rice in Songs of the Wanderers, much like each of us sifts through the changing patterns that make up our own lives. (Photo: Yu Hui-hung)

MONTREAL — Any Montreal appearance by the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre is a noteworthy event. Company founder Lin Hwai-min is in the highest rank of world choreographers, and his works seen here in the past several years — Moon Water and Wild Cursive — were transcendental visions of great visual and emotional power. Thanks again to the Danse Danse series, Cloud Gate invites audiences to go on another voyage of personal discovery at Place des Arts this month, in a work appropriately titled Songs of the Wanderers.

As interpreted by the 24 dancers, the wanderers of the title symbolize humanity throughout history, which includes you and me. Our passage in time and space is dramatized by a visual device that is simple yet extraordinarily powerful. It involves rice — three tonnes of it — cascading onto the stage like sand falling inside some fantastic hourglass. Dancers dressed in monk-like robes move about this universe, sifting through the rice as each of us sifts through the changing patterns that make up our own lives. Continue reading

Golden visions from Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan | Dance review

Seattle Times
Michael Upchurch
07 March 2014

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan is performing for the first time in Seattle, bringing its signature “Songs of the Wanderers.”

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan is performing for the first time in Seattle, bringing its signature “Songs of the Wanderers.”

In its Seattle debut, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan presents its visionary signature piece, “Songs of the Wanderers,” inspired by the choreographer’s visit to the village in India where Buddha attained enlightenment. Through March 8, 2014.

You hear the rice before you see it.

As the curtain rises in the darkened theater, a spotlight illuminates a short, narrow vertical shaft of something shimmering. Phase by phase, the strangely fluid shaft grows longer until you register what it is: a steady stream of golden rice rattling down on the head of a Buddhist monk (Wang Rong-yu).

The monk will stand motionless under that shower for almost the entire 90 minutes of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s “Songs of the Wanderers.” But the stage world surrounding him will go through struggles, convulsions and precarious balancing acts, before exploding into ecstasy. Continue reading