STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: ART FROM THE HIMALAYAS
Now showing until 15 December 2013
In Asia, lofty peaks and majestic mountains are often considered the sacred home of resplendent deities and are destinations for pilgrimage. None has inspired more passion and devotion than the Himalayan range, characterised by the revered Indian poet Kalidasa (c.400 CE) as ‘a stairway to heaven’.
Stairway to Heaven: Art from the Himalayas presents a range of sacred and secular images and objects created primarily in Nepal and Tibet by local and foreign artists.
Tibetan, or Vajrayana, Buddhism is symbolised by sculptures of the diamond thunderbolt (vajra) and is distinguished by an emphasis on yogic method and esoteric ritual practices passed down through a lama or spiritual mentor. Stairway to Heaven includes paintings (thangka) and sculptures used as meditational devices by devotees to achieve a mind of enlightenment (bodhichitta).
Curated by Russell Kelty, the display also features works by contemporary artists who seek to integrate Tibet’s sacred iconography into a Western aesthetic context. Of particular interest are the photographs and drawings in the display which document the curiosity of European artists for the Himalayas, a region regarded by many as remote and inaccessible until the late 20th century.
Join Russell Kelty, Assistant Curator of Asian Art, as he discusses this display.
Location: In the exhibition
When: 24 September, 12.30 pm