Bodhisattwa and the Making of Asian Art (part 3)

October 14, 2008

You may ask why I use motifs from Asian countries while everybody seems to think that only cheap stuff and all sorts of illegal copies do flood the markets in the Western hemisphere. While anybody seems to be afraid of being overwhelmed by low quality goods and art from China and other Asian countries why did I chose subjects for my wood carving which obviously do not belong to my own personal upbringing and history. That’s at least a question a friend of mine asked me while ago.

The answer was that a direct consequence of my travels to Asia was the love for the Arts and the wish to change my life entirely and do finally what I was meant to do.

Doesn’t it often happen that an unusual experience, something extraordinary you stumble upon, brings a complete change in your life? Things generally do not happen by accident – they rather have a certain time schedule and scheme and thus a deeper meaning when they happen. Sometimes we understand and get to know a little later about the “why” and the deeper meaning and sometimes we have no explanation at all and we are irritated and lost.

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The only thing you can do is accept and react accordingly. Grab chances when they appear. Don’t hold on to the past when the future is smiling friendly at you. Even if it does not and is rather menacing and makes you afraid it is better to take all your courage and accept changes when they are inevitable. So it happened and continues to happen.

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I really cannot say why I suddenly developed such a high interest for Asian cultures and art. But I know that my travels openened my eyes for cultures which were thousands of years old.

While Europe was lost in mud and epidemic illnesses, in ignorance and poverty during the medieval era, in China, India and the other southeast Asian countries such as Siam (Thailand) and Myanmar (Burma) cultures thrived which were highly developed. They left a heritage to humankind that is amazing and cannot be compared with the remnants we find today.

The art that has been created by innumerable unknown artists of the past became the inspiration of my humble work of today. I was completely overwhelmed when I saw for the first time what they had created many centuries ago. If I think about the tools they had and what we have available today my admiration even increases.

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There is no doubt that the motivation of the ancient artists was a different one from mine. Theirs was to glorify and adorn their gods and beliefs. Mine only to create something beautiful for the eye. But maybe it can also be seen as an hommage to the power and inspiration of a human mind that can invent and create more than weapons of mass destruction.

Europe also has a rich cultural heritage of course. The sacred art of the early romanic and gothic era, the murals and frescos of the 15th and 16th century were breathtaking. But it was also heavy, not for profane “use”. It missed the lightness and grace of Chinese carving, bronces, painting and all sorts of crafts.

Additionally isn’t is always the exotic, the different that fascinates us most? Our nature is curiosity, to learn, to investigate the unknown. It is a journey into the new.

What I want to say with all this is that we should avoid putting the stamp of prejudice on everything we see and do not really know. Easily we name anything although it might be completely different from what we thought. Judgeing the likes and dislikes is done too quickly before we give it time to really understand.

Funnily many people feel attracted by Buddhist presentations and images although I doubt that most of them really know or care for what Buddhism is all about. But that may not be important. More important is the aura of Buddhist images. No matter which cultures they derive from, they emanate harmony and calmness, peace and eternal balance, beauty and purity. This is what people feel in their presence and what they want to be near to. Something that modern times apparently cannot supply us with.

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