Category Archives: Contemporary Art

Street Art in Bhutan

Lion’s Roar published a short piece (with lots of pictures on) in March on French street artist Invader’s work throughout Bhutan, painting and building Buddhist images in his bitmap style. “Famous street artist “invades” Bhutan with Buddhist-inspired mosaics”

And see also the artist’s interview on the subject.

Mystic and Glamorous Exhibition of Goryeo Buddhist Painting

Flushing Town Hall (New York)
Sat Apr 22, 2017 – Wed May 3, 2017

In partnership with New York Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc., this exhibition features the art works of three contemporary Korean artists: Joy Rock, Chang Ho Kang, and Seoung Jo Hyun, who have inherited and developed the spirit and traditional techniques of Goryeo Buddhist Paintings. The genre of Goryeo Buddhist Paintings is one of the highlights of the renaissance in Korean fine arts during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

Opening Reception: SAT, APR 22, 5-7 PM

Lecture & Demonstration: SAT, APR 22, 7-8 PM (Theater)

Gallery Dates: SAT, APR 22 – WED, MAY 3

Gallery Hours: TUE-SUN, 12-5 PM

$5 Suggested Donation/FREE for Members & Students

The art of the Goryeo Dynasty is represented by three distinguished genres: Goryeo Buddhist Painting, Goryeo Pottery, and Goryeo Sutra Transcribing Art. Though Goryeo Pottery is widely known, many people are unfamiliar with Buddhist Painting and Sutra Transcribing Art.

Goryeo was a Buddhist Kingdom that lasted 474 years (from 918 to 1392), and the people of Goryeo had a deep sense of faith in Buddhism and after a 30-year war against the Mongols the people of Goryeo returned to Gaegyeong and produced Buddhist paintings on silk with gold powder. The Buddhist paintings that remain today – about 160 pieces – are all works after Gaegyeong was reestablished as the capital of Goryeo in 1270.

All of those works were painted on top of silk canvasses and hung on walls with hanging poles. Unlike wall paintings, they had the advantage of being hung up only when necessary and were thus mobile. Goryeo Buddhist paintings involved the use of gold powder and the technique of coloring the back of the silk canvas. They are distinguishable by patterns of exquisitely drawn lines.

The three artists whose works will be presented at Flushing Town Hall this Spring have long and distinguished careers focusing on Buddhist Painting. They all received Masters in Fine Arts in Buddhist Painting at Yongin University, currently serve in research roles, and have had their works awards – presented in solo and group exhibitions. Continue reading

EXHIBITION “Avalokitesvara/Guanyin: Feminine symbolism in Buddhist Art” a photography show at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), 1, Central Vista (CV) Mess, Janpath > 27th March to 10th April 2017

Entry : Free

Venue : Twin Art Gallery 2, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), 1, Central Vista (CV) Mess, Janpath, New Delhi-110001
Landmark : Opp. National Archives, adjoining India Gate Lawns
Venue Info : Events | About | Map
Metro : Nearest Metro Station – ‘Central Sectt.’ (Yellow Line and Violet Line)

Event Description : EXHIBITION “Avalokitesvara/Guanyin: Feminine symbolism in Buddhist Art” a photography show.

Avalokitesvara is the most popular Mahayana Bodhisattva and his cult has played an important role in the growth of Mahayana Buddhism and art. The images of Avalokitesvara in India are not feminine, although the body has a sensual form. The well known painting of Padmapani in Cave No.1 of Ajanta no doubt has a sensuous body, but taken as a whole, looks a male Bodhisattva. The paintings of the famous artist Ravi Varma, do not show Hindu Gods as strongly masculine. Essential features of manliness like muscles, broad shoulders are present but there is a touch of conspicuous feminine quality in the images.

It is not known exactly when the Guan-yin came to be regarded as female deity for the first time. Majority of the scholars are of the opinion that the transformation of Guan-yin into female deity took place about the 11th century A. D. But this seems to have been the product of a long process and this might have been influenced by many factors combined to bring the sexual transformation.


FORCE OF STILLNESS at the Rubin Museum (NYC)

master__detail_carouselFORCE OF STILLNESS

Rubin Museum of Art

Force of Stillness is a two-day festival bringing together a prominent group of international artists to highlight the significant influence of Buddhism on contemporary art.

The festival presents experimental films and performances that facilitate and transmit a complex range of meditative experiences while addressing topics such as visual colonization, queer performativity, alternate experiences of temporality, and experiments with meditative gestures in public.

Force of Stillness is curated by Amber Bemak

About the Artists

Amber Bemak teaches filmmaking at Southern Methodist University, and her creative work is based in experimental and documentary film, performance art, and curatorial practice. Bemak’s work focuses on the themes of Buddhist culture, performative explorations of the body in relation to political systems, and cross-cultural encounters in the context of globalization. Her feature and short films have played in numerous festivals internationally and have been seen at venues that include the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, SculptureCenter, and the European Media Art Festival. She has taught film theory and practice in India, Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, and the United States.

Vanessa Anspaugh is a choreographer and performance-based artist. Many of the questions that surround her work address the myriad relationships that exist in collections of groups and individuals, touching on tropes such as directorship, authorship, collaboration, collectivity, domination, emptiness, and love. Her work has been both commissioned and presented by Danspace Project, DTW, New York Live Arts, the Joyce Theater, the River to River Festival, BAX, the Sculpture Center, the Hessel Museum of Art, and Movement Research among others. She has had funded residencies through DTW, Mount Tremper Arts, Kattsbaan, the Mac Dowell Colony, LMCC, BAX, BOFFO, and Bard College. Continue reading

In Delhi, an art exhibition invites the viewer to reimagine architecture and archaeology


Image credit: Debasish Mukherjee

‘The Museum Within’ reflects artist Debasish Mukherjee’s personal observations from historical sites.

In Delhi, an art exhibition invites the viewer to reimagine architecture and archaeology
Image credit: Debasish Mukherjee

During his years of studying fine arts at Banaras Hindu University in the 1990s, Debasish Mukherjee would make frequent visits to Sarnath, a Buddhist site 12 kilometres from Varanasi.

Sarnath is home to ancient Buddhist monasteries and its most popular feature is the 128 feet-high Dhamek Stupa. However, the efforts to preserve this heritage site have been limited.


Debasish Mukherjee | Box Series | Wood, rice paper, terracotta & sand stone | 12 x 12 x 58 inches | 2016

“I saw it deteriorate in front of my eyes,” said Mukherjee. “Why is it that there is such little appreciation or respect for heritage in India? Some monuments attract the attention of the authorities, but most of the sites are kept in a sad condition – they are dilapidated, have fallen prey to vandalism or just been whitewashed in the name of conservation.”

His first solo art show, The Museum Within, is a reflection of Mukherjee’s inner sense of preservation. It is his attempt to re-imagine the roles of archaeologist, museum curator, conservator and fashion designer.

“My work replicates the manner in which a historic site is discovered and preserved as a museum artefact,” said Mukherjee.

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Curator Kanika Anand describes Mukherjee’s work as similar to that of an archaeologist’s in her curatorial note. As she writes, the archaeologist draws a site grid before excavation, creating a precise map of features and artefacts. A rectangular grid is then superimposed over the site, marking out a fixed points, she says. Mukherjee’s work follows a similar grid-like plan – with “repetitive units recording a series of related finds”.

For instance, in the “white cube series”, objects appear as excavated artefacts, cocooned within muddy surfaces. This is Mukherjee’s attempt to represent a transitory stage between the artefact’s unearthing to its eventual placement for public viewing, Anand writes. Continue reading

Third China Thangka Art Festival opens in Lhasa

09-12-2016 17:58 BJT

This grand exhibition has been a highlight since the first China Thangka Art Festival. In these two-storey Tibetan buildings around the courtyard, there are 11 galleries which display more than 200 Thangka masterpieces, collected from both home and abroad.

“The festival is a grand showcase of Thangka art, and is a great stage for artists. It’s a historic event in the art world of Tibet Autonomous Region and China as a whole. This is the third edition and it has become a great platform for the artists and a calling card for the region,” said Han Shuli, Artists Association of China.

The works were curated from more than a thousand pieces short-listed prior to the exhibition. They are all set to compete for top honors during this exhibition.

Thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton or paper, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala, and has a history of over a thousand years. It is currently on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Organizers want to to raise awareness and preserve Thangka, and the festival aims to systematize resources and promote the art.

“I’m here on vacation. I’ve always intrigued by the unique culture of Tibet and being here at the exhibition is really great!” said a visitor.

“It’s really a privilege to attend this festival. I’m stunned by the exquisite Thangka artworks here. And I hope this festival can become better and better,” said another visitor.

A Thangka painting can be as small as the palm of your hand, or large enough that a mountain is needed to fully showcase it. The world’s largest one is 120 meters long and 85 meters wide. It took 10 masters more than nine years to complete it.

This year’s event runs till October 10th in Lhasa.


Thangka artist Joanna Angie to kick off fall exhibits at Roz Steiner Gallery

Submitted artwork by thangka artist Joanna Angie as featured in new exhibit at GCC's Roz Steiner Gallery called "Meditation."

Submitted artwork by thangka artist Joanna Angie as featured in new exhibit at GCC’s Roz Steiner Gallery called “Meditation.”

August 8, 2016 – 12:44pm

Press release:

The schedule is now in place for artists and exhibits that will be featured in the Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery this fall at Genesee Community College, and thangka (Tibetan buddhist painting) artist Joanna Angie will display her works from Aug. 22 – Sept. 24 to begin the season.

Evident in her artwork, Angie has a strong sense of connection to Tibetan spiritual practice. Through thangka, a traditional Tibetan form of religious art dating back to the 11th century, Joanna seeks to convey images of compassion, community and knowledge.

“What I found in the Tibetan spiritual practice and thangka paintings was a natural sense of connection,” Angie said. “The images stand for qualities we can develop such as compassion, community and knowledge, knowing there was no good judging me, just cause and effect.”

Angie is the daughter of an Italian immigrant who escaped Mussolini’s wrath and was proud of his American citizenship. After her father’s death when she was just 14 years old, faith slowly came to her and school teachers and college professors became new guides in her life. After graduating Bennett College, Angie opened a gourmet food business, but became very sick by the age of 28. Relocation to Massachusetts exposed her to a Tibetan healer and a hatha yoga teacher, giving her new opportunities to heal and figured immensely into her healing process.

As a community-engaged artist, Joanna has worked on numerous projects including the public art project to commemorate the Centennial of the Pan-American Exposition in 2001. She was an active member of the Community Outreach Committee for the 2006 visit to Buffalo by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and in 2005, 2007 and 2010; she was an active participant in Beyond/In WNY Exhibitions, collaboration between visual arts organizations in the Western New York Region. Her mural commissions include work at Carnegie Hall Towers and William Hurt’s residence in New York City and at St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Buffalo Club in Buffalo.

Founder of the Buffalo Arts Studio and acting director from 1991-2012, Angie has exhibited her work at galleries in Buffalo, including Anderson Gallery, Buffalo Arts Studio, CEPA, El Museo, Hallwalls, Contemporary Arts Center, Himalayan Institute of Buffalo, Insight Gallery; as well as the Kenan Center in Lockport, Olean Public Library Art Gallery and the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn.

In addition to its aesthetic beauty as a work of art, thangka serves as an object of devotion, an aid to spiritual practice, and a source of blessings to those who meditate upon it. Joanna’s exhibition “Mediation” will be shown Aug. 22 – Sept. 24 and an opening reception is planned for Sept. 8 beginning at 1 p.m. The exhibition will close with a reception on Sept. 24 beginning at 1 p.m. during GCC’s Homecoming festivities. Continue reading

Leicester City: Listed building to get Buddhist mural

Artists' impression of a Leicester City mural for the side of the Newarke Houses MuseumImage copyrightLEICESTER CITY COUNCIL

Artists’ impression of a Leicester City mural for the side of the Newarke Houses MuseumImage copyrightLEICESTER CITY COUNCIL

BBC News
11 August 2016

The mural will feature Buddhist images, celebrating the Thai heritage of Leicester City’s owners

A Grade-II* listed building is to be temporarily decorated with a mural to celebrate Leicester City’s Premier League title win, despite opposition.

Historic England said it could “harm the appreciation and understanding” of the Newarke Houses Museum.

But the city council has approved placing the mural on the building for two years.

It is one of six pieces of art which the council has commissioned to celebrate the Foxes’ 5,000-1 success.

The mural, which features Buddhist images, will celebrate the Thai heritage of Leicester City’s owners.

The Foxes stunned the Premier League by winning the title by 10 points in May.

Councillor Ted Cassidy said: “The committee took into account the objections and views of Historic England and decided that on balance, this was acceptable for that particular part of the building.

“It may in fact encourage people to go to that side.”

Three murals have already been painted on to walls in the city to celebrate the title win.

Historic England had hoped the council would find a “less sensitive” building for the latest mural to be painted. Continue reading

Bodhi of work: The art of John Connell (1940-2009)


▼ Exhibit through Aug. 1
▼ Peters Projects, 1011 Paseo de Peralta [New Mexico], 505-954-5800


Friday, June 19, 2015 5:00 am
Michael Abatemarco

When Siddhartha Gautama, the historic sage who became known as Buddha, is depicted in meditation position, his left hand resting in his lap, palm upright, and his right hand touching the earth, the image represents the moment of his enlightenment. It also signifies his moment of triumph over Mara, the entity whose demonic forces were arrayed against Gautama to prevent him from reaching his goal. The paintings and sculptures of John Connell (1940-2009) are rooted in Buddhist tradition, and that mythic moment Gautama experienced under the bodhi tree is a subject Connell returned to time and again, not shying away from depicting the diabolical forces attempting to unseat Buddha from his immovable spot. Earth-touching Buddha, as the image is traditionally known, is steadfast in his devotion, calling on the earth to bear witness. It is fitting, then, that Connell’s own three-dimensional depictions of Buddha are often made using materials found just beneath one’s feet, or from deep in the earth, and sit in their place as naturally as boulders by a stream.

Connell’s legacy in New Mexico is apparent in a new monograph published by Radius Books, John Connell: Works 1965-2009, the most complete collection of his sculpture and paintings in print. “If you look in the section of the book, the ’60s and ’70s, you see a lot of Buddha things, and that developed all the way through his career,” Connell’s son Brendan Connell told Pasatiempo. “Probably something like 60 percent of his work has some relationship to some kind of a Buddhist theme, even if it’s not quite obvious from the titles.” In addition to the monograph, an exhibition of his works titled Earth-Touching Buddha is on view at Peters Projects as part of the gallery’s series of solo shows, Programme One, which opened on June 12. A look through Connell’s three-dimensional pieces makes it plain why the title is fitting. Not only are Buddha figures and related deities often the subject, but there is an earthy, grounded quality to the work. Many of Connell’s figurative sculptures, though abstract, seem rooted in place, like figures from the Buddhist pantheon who remain untouched by the efforts of their adversaries to disrupt them from their transcendent goals.

Bird sculptures on view in the exhibit, a common subject for the artist, have talons that are too large for their bodies. Feet, too big for the bodies they support, can also be seen in his depictions of human forms, lending some of his gnarly bronzes and mixed media works a certain bulk and weight. “Part of that with the sculptures was a technical thing to get them to stand,” Connell said. “He was at some museum where there were a number of sculptures by Giacometti, and he noticed that Giacometti had done the same thing, having these figures with very large feet. He realized it was something sculptors have been dealing with for a very long time. There is also some symbolism there, definitely.”

Connell first moved to Santa Fe for a brief spell in 1967 after living in Berkeley and working at San Francisco’s renowned City Lights Bookstore, where he fell in with Beat poets and writers such as Allen Ginsburg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Neal Cassady. “Originally his aspiration was to be a writer, and he wrote numerous novels that were cast aside or thrown away. I’ve got a good body of his writing that, hopefully, I can get published somewhere,” Connell said. John Connell, who was a member of the Art Students League in New York in the early 1960s, most likely encountered his first real experiences with Buddhism while living in the Bay Area. “I recall him mentioning that he would read books by Alan Watts and people like that during downtime at City Lights. I believe at some point he also studied at the San Francisco Zen Center.” Connell met his wife, Stella, also employed at City Lights, who introduced him to the North Beach poets and soon, his own poetry began appearing alongside theirs in Beatitude Magazine, a seminal Beat publication founded by poets Bob Kaufman, Ginsburg, and others. Continue reading

Bodhisattva statue project symbolizes Mongolia’s Buddhist heritage

The Grand Maitreya Project statue manufacturing process. Photo via The Grand Maitreya Project on Facebook.

The Grand Maitreya Project statue manufacturing process. Photo via The Grand Maitreya Project on Facebook.

Lion’s Roar

A 177-foot-tall statue of the standing Maitreya Bodhisattva will be built in Mongolia under the spiritual direction of the Dalai Lama. The project is set to be completed by 2018 and the builders, the Grand Maitreya Project, are currently holding a funding campaign to help finish its construction.

The project aims to rebuild Mongolia’s ancient culture and history of Tibetan Buddhism, starting with the statue of the bodhisattva of lovingkindness, according to the project’s website. The statue is meant to act as a beacon of peace, following Mongolia’s complicated history of communist occupation and anti-Buddhist campaigns.

The occupation of the country began in the 1920s and was followed by a revolution from soviet communists. During this time, many Mongolian people became separated from their Buddhist heritage, and many of the country’s ancient monasteries and Maitreya statues were destroyed. By 1939 only one monastery was left standing. Following a peaceful protest in 1990, occupying forces retreated and the country re-gained its spiritual freedom.

The Grand Maitreya Project itself is indicative of a cultural divide finally being bridged. A stupa will be connected to the statue, housing interior teaching and meditation levels, holy relics and other artifacts. The Dalai Lama has selected sacred relics of the Buddha from his personal collection to be enshrined inside the Maitreya statue. Continue reading