Tea House

Buddhist Creative Writing and Inspiration

Category: Art Story Egg

The Language of Flowers: Flower Artist Masao Mizukami

Grace Ko

Mizukami’s flower arrangement at Hong Kong Flower Show 2017. Image courtesy of Sally Tsui

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand; and a Heaven in a Wild Flower; hold Infinity in the palm of your hand; and Eternity in an hour,” said English poet William Blake. Japanese flower arranging emphasizes interaction with the natural world to reach enlightenment. Japanese flower artist Masao Mizukami finds this spiritual and creative language in flowers and nature.

Flowers are emissaries of nature, inspiring us to see and appreciate beauty in the world. Masao Mizukami is a master of Japanese flower arranging and he finds a creative language in the arrangement of flowers with natural settings.

Read More

Ju Ming: Finding what has been thrown away

Grace Ko

Ju Ming, Tai Chi Series: Strike with Fists 1984 Bronze

“Hell is in the living world, but the living world also has a paradise. Which way would you go? It’s your choice entirely.” The eminent Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming wrote these thoughts about life at his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong in 2014. His artworks are inspiring and the path in his artistic career has run parallel with his Buddhist education.

As with most successful people, Ju Ming experienced a tough period and invested effort and hard work into building himself up as an internationally recognized artist. He was an ambitious craftsman and ran his own flourishing carving business before the age of thirty. But his success didn’t last long, failing because of the over-expansion of his business. This blow to his career made him rethink his life but he decided to be an artist. He worked as an apprentice under a renowned Taiwanese sculptor Yuyu Yang. After an eight-year apprenticeship, his teacher Yang taught him the “throwing away” principal: throw away skills and styles in the mind; discard forms; banish reality; and preserve the spirit.

Read More

Art and the Language of Change

Grace Ko

Simone Boon, “Promising Red,” 2010, Photography

What kind of language is art? Every time I read the gatha in Diamond Sutra, “Thus shall you think of this fleeting world: a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; a flash of lightning in a summer cloud; a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream,” I think of Dutch artist Simone Boon’s photography. Her unearthly images seem to visually express this gatha.

Viewing art is like opening up another sensory channel that hones an artist’s view of the world. Everyone’s sensory channel and how we interpret the world is different. A few years ago, when I saw Boon’s first series of photographic stills. I found the work stunning, but also eerie. The figures in these photographs of females who move into the abstract blurs look like spirits.

For Boon, she was trying to explore other types of photography to present the idea that, “form is only a snapshot view of transition,” — a statement from French philosopher’s Henri Bergson. Her aim is to capture human essence that forms in relation to patterns in a flow of becoming. The flowing essence of humans can be attuned to the changing rhythms of reality. It is not in the everyday images we see.

Read More

The Art of Emptiness

Grace Ko

Liu Kuo-sung, Symphony of Sun and Moon, 2015. Ink and colour on paper.

Liu Kuo-sung, Symphony of Sun and Moon, 2015. Ink and colour on paper.

Art has long captivated us and yet, even though art historians and philosophers have spilled much ink over its nature, we still can’t fully define it. Recently, notable American artist Trevor Paglen revealed what he thought art is, which really impressed me. “Art,” he said, “is about making invisible structures visible, the better for viewers to grasp the operations of the world around them.”

It made me ask, “How can we understand the world we live in? Do we need to understand the countless other lives that intersect with ours?” Is that what art does?

In The Diamond Sutra, the Buddha said to the senior monk Subhuti, “This is how the bodhisattva mahasattvas (enlightened great beings) master their thinking: Many species of living beings—whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they have perceptions or do not have perceptions; or whether it cannot be said of them that they have perceptions or that they do not have perceptions, we must lead all these beings to Nirvana so that they can be liberated.”

The Buddha also asked Subhuti, “Do you think that the space in the Eastern Quarter can be measured? Subhuti, can space in the Western, Southern, or Northern Quarters, above or below, be measured?”

Read More

Passing Through the Hands of Time

Grace Ko

A copper alloy figure of Four-armed Avalokiteshvara from 15th century Tibet that was showcased at Fine Art Asia Hong Kong.

A copper alloy figure of Four-armed Avalokiteshvara from 15th century Tibet that was showcased at Fine Art Asia Hong Kong.

In October 2016, ancient Buddhist statues were a major presence at the season’s art fairs and auctions in Hong Kong, Beijing, and New York. There was an impressive range. Audiences could view Buddhist art from the Eastern Wei Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, originally from Tibet, Mongolia to Nepal and Central Asia, were showcased in Fine Art Asia and Poly Autumn Auction in Hong Kong, Guardian Fine Art Asia in Beijing, and TEFAF in New York.

Buddhist art has survived for centuries and fallen into the hands of different collectors, proving how its ideas have etched themselves into time across Asia while remaining significant in people’s lives. However, it seems audiences still can’t view this kind of Buddhist art widely at museums or public exhibitions organized by the government or even non-profit making organizations. Still, they are finding their value at art fairs and auction houses, and these are the places for art trading and selling. Viewers can appreciate delicate and exquisite Buddhist art there, while being astonished by its high-selling prices as well.

Read More

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén