September 10 - November 8, 2010
Gallery & Web Exhibition
“Buddhist Lives,” consists of works in stone, metal, ceramic and in ink and pigments on silk and paper. A majority were fashioned and fabricated as devotional images intended, for example, to hang on temple walls, to furnish church or private altars, or perhaps to stand in a funerary niche. Such genuinely religious images also served as springboards for expressive contemporary works of art. While intended to grace a museum display case or perhaps a wall in a private home, these works still, however, evoke the profundity of their sacred sources. A number of the most important ‘Buddhist lives,’ lived among us but in an elevated spiritual realm, were brought back to the earth and concretized by the master craftsmen or artists responsible for the works you will see here. In the Buddhist earthly world, where temples abound and monks once scoured the streets with begging bows in hand, however, not all ecclesiastics were pious representatives of the faith; note the raucous figure depicted in riotous colors on a 17th-century Chinese porcelain dish, certain to have brought a smile to the diner who would have first supped from it some centuries ago and a smile to ours now. Note also that the creators of most of the images here were more than mere craftsmen. In fact, when we look at an ancient Buddhist painting created by the hand of a master and in a style that speaks of its time, we are far more absorbed in those realities, the ones outside of the subject matter, than in the religious import of the work itself. As in the western world, religious beliefs inspired great art, and, in turn, it was hoped that such art would not only give visualization to religious doctrine but would further reinforce religious convictions and inspire and support devotion among the laity.