Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mandala, The Perfect Circle, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, NY, August 14 - January 11, 2009

Click here for online exhibition

The mandala, one of Himalayan Buddhism's most ubiquitous symbols, is created as an artistic aid for meditation. Depicting a realm that is both complex and sacred, the mandala is a visualization tool meant to advance practitioners toward a state of enlightenment.

Mandala: The Perfect Circle explores the various manifestations of these objects, simultaneously explaining their symbolism, describing how they fulfill their intended function, and demonstrating their correlation to our physical reality. An important part of the exhibition is the focus on the complex symbolism of the number five, which plays an important role in Tantric Buddhism. This pentarchy is found in the spatial references of the five directions (the four cardinal points and the center), the five elements, the five colors, the five aggregates, the five wisdoms, and the five Transcendent (Tathagata) Buddhas. The exhibition also displays different types of mandalas, including paintings, three-dimensional works, portable mandalas, and ritual objects that are related to mandala ceremonies.

While many of the paintings in this exhibition are from the collection of the Rubin Museum, the show also includes masterpieces from other museums and private collections from around the world, including the Musée Guimet (Paris), Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Pacific Asia Museum (Pasadena), and Metropolitan Museum (New York).

Recently created virtual mandalas made by computer graphic designers show the creation of a sand mandala and demonstrate the three-dimensionality, fragility and transparency of the mandala (productions by Cornell University, Zurich University, and others).

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