There are times when people ask Venerable Master Hsing Yun for a word or two, to enlighten them on daily matters. The Master feels deeply that it’s easy to say a few words, but to inspire people is much more difficult. So, in this Nan Tien Institute Wollongong Campus Official Opening, We are delighted to introduce the exhibition “Inspired by Buddhism.”
Art inspired by Buddhism is not necessarily art that depicts the Buddha, or Buddhist teachings. Early Indian Buddhist art began with signs, such as a pair of Buddha’s footprints, a wheel and even an empty seat. It was around the first century when statues of the Buddha, depicting his historical life, were first seen in Gandhara art.
In this exhibition, our artists present their very own works, inspired by their own personal contacts with Buddhism. For example, Lindy Lee’s Lessons of Silence is inspired by the film ‘The Harp of Burma’; Guan Wei’s Up in the Clouds comes from the Buddhist notion of a Pure Land, which he has created in our human world; Phaptawan Suwannakudt’s Buddha Lives suggests living a noble life; Ah Xian’s Metaphysica explores the nature of existence; Lachlan Warner’s Buddha of Infinite Directions shows the interconnectedness of phenomena; Liu Xiaoxian presents Our gods through the manifestation of identity; Wang Hui Chuan’s The Important Things in Life looks at the concept of enlightenment, and Tsai Charwei’s Sea Mantra shares the idea of impermanence. All of these works also convey the basic Buddhist messages of compassion and wisdom.
Both Buddhism and art are about a passion for truth, goodness and beauty. As Venerable Master Hsing Yun says, “The beauty of Buddhism is that it strives for truth, goodness and beauty in life, while the beauty of art is in its interpretation of truth, goodness and beauty in life.”
We hope that this exhibition will inspire our visitors to explore the tranquility within their own minds, and to feel the tremendous goodness and beauty surrounding us all. Buddhist art will then be like a finger pointing to the moon, showing us the direction, pointing each individual towards the path of enlightenment. Here we present you with a hand pointing to the moon.
So, please explore, and become enlightened!
Jackie Menzies, OAM, is Emeritus Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She has been responsible for many significant Asian exhibitions and catalogues, including ‘INDIA: Dancing to the Flute’ (1997), ‘MODERN BOY, MODERN GIRL, Modernity in Japanese Art 1910-1935’ (1998), ‘BUDDHA, Radiant Awakening’ (2001) and ‘GODDESS, Divine Energy’ (2006). ‘The Asian Collections’ (2003), which she edited, was awarded ‘Best Book of the Year’ 2003 by the Power Institute and the Association of Art Historians of Australia and New Zealand.