Category Archives: Exhibitions

A rare chance to see Buddhist art in San Antonio

“Amida Buddha with Attending Bodhisattvas” is a late 18th century wood sculpture adorned with gold, pigment and metal. It is one of the works in “Heaven & Hell: Salvation and Retribution in Pure Land Buddhism,” an exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Photo: Courtesy Of The San Antonio Museum Of Art /Courtesy Of The San Antonio Museum Of Art / Contact San Antonio Museum of Art, Registrar’s Office
Photo: Courtesy Of The San Antonio Museum Of Art /Courtesy Of The San Antonio Museum Of Art

By Elda Silva
June 16, 2017 Updated: June 16, 2017 5:39pm
San Antonio Express-News

When it comes to hell, Buddhists are at something of an advantage.

While torment may await those who stray from the path of righteousness, it needn’t be eternal.

“The wonderful thing about Buddhist hell is — unlike Christian hell — it doesn’t last forever,” said Emily Sano. “You can get out.”

Sano, the former director of the the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco who joined the staff of the San Antonio Museum of Art last year as the Coates-Cowden-Brown Senior Advisor for Asian Art, is the curator of “Heaven and Hell: Salvation and Retribution in Pure Land Buddhism.”

Featuring about 70 works, including paintings, sculpture and decorative objects, the exhibit, which is now on view, is touted as the first in the United States to explore Pure Land Buddhism, the most popular form of the religion in Asia.

Pure Land Buddhism began in West Asia in the early years of the Common Era, then spread across Central Asia to China and into Tibet, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. A branch of Mahayana Buddhism, it focuses on Amitabha, a Buddha who promises salvation — or rebirth into Sukhavati, a heavenly Pure Land of bliss — to anyone who calls his name.

Sano began working on “Heaven and Hell” two years ago, after Katie Luber, director of the museum, invited her to curate a show on the subject of her choice.

Very few exhibitions of Buddhist art have been done in Texas, Sano said, “so I thought it was just important to expose the audience in and around San Antonio to the material. I particularly loved the Pure Land theme because the message is quite simple and the works of art are so beautiful.”

“From the time I was a graduate student I was so impressed by the paintings and the sculptures that this religion inspired,” she added. “So it’s just been a favorite topic of mine.”

To put the exhibition together, Sano drew on the permanent collection of the San Antonio museum, as well as those of institutions and private collections around the country — 20 in all, including the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“For me — why I was attracted to the idea — is that it was a chance to look at a very living tradition that has a 2,500 year old history,” Luber said. “And then we did have these works in our own collection. Emily, when she came on with us, started thinking about it right away. So I take my lead from the brilliance of the curators, always.”

Visitors to the exhibit are immediately greeted by a pair of carved wood Nio guardians, such as those placed at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asia. The figures are imposing, with fierce expressions and bulging muscles. The protective deities traveled with the historical Buddha, acting as bodyguards. Offering reassurance, a polished gray limestone hand of Buddha is mounted on a pedestal, thumb and ring finger lightly touching. At more than two feet in height, the piece from Tang dynasty Chicna was once part of a monumental work. Continue reading

Early Chinese Buddhist Art from Dunhuang Cave Recreated In London

from Artlyst

Dunhuang, an oasis on the ancient Silk Road in northern China, is known for its caves containing some of the world’s finest examples of Buddhist art, created over a period of 1000 years. Millions visit this UNESCO world heritage site each year.

“We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves” – Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts

From 16 May – 15 June 2017, The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, in Shoreditch, is exhibiting a life-size, exquisitely hand-painted replica of one of the most beautiful Dunhuang caves, Mogao Cave 3. These caves form an enormous complex of temples – of which the Mogao Grottoes are the most famous. They were elaborate, beautifully painted and used as places of meditation, worship and pilgrimage from the 4th to 14th centuries. Desert sand sealed up many of these caves, but in 1900 a treasure trove of 50,000 manuscripts, hidden since the 11th century, was discovered in one of the caves, recording a vibrant history of cultural, scientific and spiritual exchange. Precious manuscripts, prints and textiles from the Dunhuang caves are now preserved by the International Dunhuang Project in collections around the world.

Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, says: “We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves. We hope Londoners and anyone visiting London will take this rare opportunity to see close-up, these exquisite examples of some of the world’s earliest Buddhist artwork – just as pilgrims, traders and worshippers would have made when they stopped at this crucial junction on the ancient Silk Road. We are immensely grateful to the Dunhuang Research Academy and to the Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation for paying us this honour.”

The actual cave is now so fragile it is closed to all visitors. Considered the most important of the ten late-Yuan dynasty caves, Mogao Cave 3 is the only one entirely devoted to the Avalokitesvara Sutra. The exhibition will also feature replicas of other cave murals, sculptures and manuscripts.

The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks. The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks.
Continue reading

Kaikei Buddhist exhibit enlightens visitors

10:00 am, April 19, 2017
The Yomiuri Shimbun

NARA — Kaikei, one of the nation’s representative sculptors of Buddhist statues from the Kamakura period (late 12th century to early 14th century), developed a sophisticated form of sculpting that was followed by artists of later generations. An ongoing exhibition in Nara presents the various attractive aspects of Kaikei’s sculptures, helping visitors see why Japanese have been fascinated by the master’s works.

Kaikei, whose date of birth and death are unknown, has been seen as an equal to Unkei (d. 1223), whose father is said to have served as the young Kaikei’s teacher.

Currently being held at the Nara National Museum through June 4, “The Buddhist Master Sculptor Kaikei: Timeless Beauty from the Kamakura Period” is an unprecedented exhibition as the items on show include 37 works proven to have been created by Kaikei based on his signatures on the pieces or other clues. This accounts for 80 percent of such works definitely attributed to Kaikei today, both at home and abroad.

Kaikei carved out Buddhist images as a serious devotee of Amida (Amitabha), which can best be indicated by the Standing Amida Nyorai at Todaiji temple in Nara.

For some works, Kaikei used a signature that included Amida, as on the Seated Miroku (Maitreya) Bosatsu at Daigoji temple in Kyoto. The statue, on view from April 25, is described as the best work of the sculptor’s early years.

The signature can also be found on the powerfully carved, impressive Komokuten (Virupaksa) from the Four Guardian Kings at Kongobuji temple in Wakayama Prefecture. Continue reading

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

Jade Buddha Temple shows thangka art

Shanghai Daily, By Bob Yang | March 21, 2017, Tuesday

SHANGHAI’S Jade Buddha Temple yesterday launched a free exhibition of thangka art and traditional Chinese paintings about Buddhism.

About 20 paintings from Tibetan Buddhism master LuoZangDanBa and renowned Buddhism painter Li Tang are being exhibited at the temple through to Sunday.

Visitors would be able to witness the cultural heritages and beauty of Tibetan Buddhism through the exhibition, a temple official said.

As the highlight of the exhibition, six original works of the medieval Tibetan art of thangka — minutely detailed paintings depicting Buddhist deities or symbols — from the master are being showcased.

LuoZangDanBa, who is also a national intangible cultural heritage inheritor, began to study painting in thangka style when he was 5 years old. Li, the other artist of the exhibition, is director of the Buddhism art and culture research center with Peking University.

Visitors can enter the temple via Jiangning Road in Putuo District to view the exhibition. No entrance ticket is required.

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Where India and China Meet: Buddhist Art as Common Heritage

Stone tablet of the Buddha with two Bodhisattvas, 190cm by 100cm by 40cm, 582CE. Image courtesy of the Beijing Palace Museum.

Medium.com

Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, examines how an exhibition on Buddhist art at Beijing’s Palace Museum could establish the foundation for greater dialogue and understanding between India and China. This blog post first appeared in the Harvard University South Asia Institute’s “Faculty Voices” series, and has been lightly edited for the Fairbank Center blog by James Evans.

A first major loan exhibition of Indian art in Beijing was recently held in the majestic Meridian Gate tower of the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City (see a virtual tour of the exhibition here.) “Across the Silk Road: Gupta Sculptures and their Chinese Counterparts during 400 to 700CE” was an ambitious exhibition conceived by the senior curatorial fellow of the Palace Museum, Dr. Lou Wenhua, after his visit to India three years ago.

Fifty-six sculptures from nine Indian museums were on display against a red backdrop in one gallery, while two adjacent galleries were filled with over one hundred Chinese Buddhist sculptures against blue backdrop. Bringing this exhibition together was an impressive feat by the organizers in Beijing, which, of course, was not possible without collaborative efforts from many museum personnel and officers in India.


While the China-India bilateral relationship is not as rosy and warm as anticipated (i.e. India’s failed entry into the NSG at the Seoul plenary, as well as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor developments — part of President Xi Jinping’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road projects), the exhibition reminds us of the age-old connections between the two countries, notably activated and solidified through the transmission of Buddhism. It also opens up new possibilities for trans-regional connections in the future that may benefit tremendously from a mutual understanding of each other’s culture and history.

The time frame of the exhibition, from 400 to 700CE, is the period in which three Chinese monk-pilgrims, Faxian 法顯 (337-c.422CE), Xuanzang 陳褘 (602–664CE) and Yijing 義淨 (635–713CE), visited India. Their travelogues are enthusiastically mined as indispensable records for understanding the history of Indian Buddhism and the history of early medieval India, although they are at times unfortunately without any critical consideration of the Chinese monks’ own cultural prejudices and political motivations. The exhibition heralds “Gupta sculptures” as its main anchor perhaps unwittingly perpetuating a notion of the Gupta period (c. 320–550) as the “classical” or “golden” age of Indian Art, formulated during the early twentieth century. The selection is commendably wider in scope, however, in terms of the range of dates and the variety of iconography (from a circa third century Buddhist sculpture, to a circa fifth century Jaina stele, to circa seventh century Hindu sculptures).

The Palace Museum and the Forbidden City Cultural Heritage Conservation Foundation organized an international symposium to accompany the exhibition. I was invited to participate in it as an expert on Indian Buddhist art along with other foreign scholars from India and elsewhere (including the Fairbank Center’s Professor Leonard van der Kuijp). The three-day symposium was packed with speakers presenting on a variety of topics with about two thirds of papers on Chinese Buddhist sculptures of the period between 400 to 700CE. It was an exciting opportunity to learn about discoveries of new art historical materials from recent excavations.
On the India side, according to Dr. B. R. Mani, a respected archaeologist and the current director of India’s National Museum in New Delhi, a recent excavation at Sarnath, the celebrated pilgrimage site of Buddha’s first sermon, revealed material evidence for the hitherto-unnoticed existence of a sculptors’ workshop at the site. Many more new findings in China were shared with much enthusiasm and excitement. Chinese archaeologists seem to be discovering and excavating many more Buddhist sites and other related historical sites than ever before. The sheer amount of historical details and art historical evidence that emerge from these new excavations is incredible.

Continue reading

UM Museum Opens Photography Exhibit of Buddhist Caves

mogao-cave-north-wall-1943

The exhibit “Dunhuang through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” is now open at the UM Museum.

Images from China illustrate artistic and architectural achievements

JANUARY 16, 2017 BY CHRISTINA STEUBE

OXFORD, Miss. – Photographs of the intricately painted Mogao and Yulin Caves in Dunhuang, China are on exhibit at the University of Mississippi Museum.

“Dunhuang Through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” features photographs taken of the caves by the Los in the 1940s. The nearly 500 caves containing artwork are in the northwestern area of China along the ancient Silk Road and are a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. The caves, which served as spaces for meditation and worship, were painted between the fourth and 14th centuries.
The exhibit opened Jan. 10 in conjunction with the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, held on the UM campus Jan. 13-15. The free exhibit runs through April 29, and an opening reception is set for 6-8 p.m. Jan. 31.

Joshua Howard, Croft associate professor of history and international studies and a Chinese historian, proposed this exhibit to the University Museum.

“These photographs have high artistic value,” Howard said. “James and Lucy Lo used natural light and often placed mirrors in the caves to create special lighting effects and create a sense of the caves’ spirituality.

“James Lo also experimented with his photo angles; for instance, shooting a 50-foot reclining Buddha from the vantage point of the head of the statue rather than from the feet looking toward the head. The result is a more intimate and serene shot of the Buddha. Other landscape photos they took give a sense of the harsh but beautiful desert terrain the caves inhabit.”
The collection of 31 black-and-white photographs is from the Lo Archive and the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University. The Mogao and Yulin caves illustrate artistic and architectural achievements, as well as provide an intimate look at the history of Buddhism and other religions of the region.

Museum officials were excited about the opportunity to open the exhibit to conference attendees, said Robert Saarnio, museum director. The conference included workshops, panel discussions, lectures and film screenings of Asian poetry and literature, history, language, art, philosophy and politics.

“These are exactly the kinds of multidisciplinary and cross-campus partnerships that the museum seeks to foster and welcome, wherein great art and artifact content can be exhibited in such close correspondence to curricular, research and teaching endeavors,” Saarnio said.
The museum, at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

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