Artists’ Sacred Visions at Tibet House
The gallery at Tibet House is hosting “Sacred Vision, Separate Views: Contemporary Buddhist Perspectives In Art,” an exhibition of works by six artists whose study and practice of Buddhism have informed their work in distinctly different ways not readily identifiable as “Buddhist art”. Here is an exhibition that is vibrant and dynamic in its larger than usual dimensions, such as Japanese artist Shigeru Oyatani’s fiery red Party Line and the blizzard white No, each a 72-inch square, right- angled to each other in one corner of the gallery. There is mystery hidden in Oyatani’s great squares, as there is in two works by poet-painter James Walton Fox, who often incorporates script, including Arabic, Sanskrit, Hebrew, and Farsi, as a visual device. Proof embodies vowels and consonants of the “Ali Kali” alphabet as well as Euclidian Proof, while his more ephemeral seeming Sky Burial contains a poem of his own that follows the metrics as the Buddhist Seven-Line Prayer.
Valley Fox’s Venus In Furs Feast Offering #11 is a bold departure from her exuberantly erotic flower “portraits”; also here one sees the untame
d, cascading fluidity of Pale Fire. The eye rests a moment on one of two smaller ink and pencil renderings of Study for a Line In Space, a collaboration between Fox and Wesley Simon on a sand mandala. But it is Simon’s stark ink and charcoal Mountain of Burnt Offerings, a large rectangle with its burned off lower edge and burnt remains in a pile on the floor, that resonates with current events, a reminder of the one- hundred Tibetans reported to have self-immolated in response to Chinese oppression ( as well as the Tunisian fruit vendor & wave of sympathizers who ignited the Arab Spring). Sculptor E. Elizabeth Peters displays Bounty of Burnt Offerings, a
collection of hand- molded , skeletal objects cast of ceramic porcelain bisque then smoke fired – a foreboding human skull, dark ashen bones, goblets and pitcher – all appearing to have been unearthed from an archeological dig. Standing thigh-high on four sensuously shaped “legs”, is a plexiglas box containing unfired clay ru: What Remains. Korean video artist Jayoung Yoon presents a series of elegantly still pieces reflective of her Butoh influences.
Tibet House does not promote its gallery as aggressively as it ought to, perhaps in keeping with the Buddhist tenet of non-ego or non-attachment. This can be self-defeating when it comes to exhibitions as notable as this one, which some, summoned by mailing list or word of mouth, have deemed the best they’ve attended. Perhaps what’s required is a gallerist, as gallery owners have come to be called, a veteran seasoned in the art market’s ways and ( considerable) means.
“Sacred Vision, Separate Views: Contemproary Buddhist Perspectives In Art” will be at Tibet House, 22 West 15th Street, through Feb. 1.