From Natural to the Supernatural: Asian Buddhist Art and Its World View
In this talk, a number of images of Buddhist art from Asia will be examined to underscore the importance of life, living objects and their symbolic meanings in the context of the Buddhist world view. An attempt to understand the first image-makers' engagement with form and meaning — inspired by such natural icons as the lotus, trees and creepers, the wheel, the elephant, the yakshi and composite animals to images of the supernatural such as the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and goddesses — will uncover the Buddhist vision of the world. Every symbol in this worldview is significant, and helps shed light on how that worldview evolved in the work of its monk-designers, whose involvement in this process is generally ignored or taken for granted. The talk will explore how concepts of royalty, divinity, fertility and asceticism appear and coexist in Buddhist art.
Dr. Gauri Krishnan is the Centre Director of the Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore. She was Deputy Director for Research and Publication and Senior Curator for South Asia at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore. As its founding curator, she has collected for the South Asian gallery since 1993. She is the author of The Divine Within: Art and Living Culture of India & South Asia (2007) and On the Nalanda Trail: Buddhism in India, China and Southeast Asia (2007) and the editor of Ramayana in Focus: Visual and Performing Arts of Asia (2010).
Dr. Krishnan received her PhD in art history from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. She has worked extensively on Indian temple architecture, Buddhist monuments of Western India and the evolution of the Buddha image.