Art/Aesthetics

This page is for reviews, research and articles about Buddhist art and aesthetic experience and spiritual practice.

As a philosophy postgraduate in London, one of my specialisation subjects was Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art, and I co-edited a book with American Professor, Richard Shusterman called ‘Aesthetic Experience‘ (Routledge, 2007) see here. For a pdf. download of ‘Contemplating the Undefinable‘ my introduction and overview of the book see here. Here is a short extract:

“Of course, looking at the valuable aspects of aesthetic experience and the appreciation (and observation) of art does not necessarily entail a romanticization of art and aesthetic experience. Experiences can be aesthetic while being also disturbing and disagreeable. Experience of nature (sublime and beautiful), sex, relationships, all contain within them the seeds for profound and transformative experiences in life because they provide excellent opportunities to discover, express and perceive those aspects of reality which lie at the root of our existence and ultimately make life valuable and joyful (though also sometimes painful).

However, the experience of these realities depends also on our perceptual powers, discipline, and choices. We make the world with our thoughts. For example, your perception of a beautiful sunrise or a particular person may be quite different from my perception of that sunrise or person.14 If we recognize this mental flexibility and freedom, we can then attempt to transform all perceptions into valuable and beneficial ones, no matter how harmful or averse they might initially appear to us. In this way, Kant’s insistence that aesthetic judgment involves the ‘‘free play’’ of the mind can be fruitfully combined with the Buddhist perspective that the joy experienced from such freedom, far from being a mere matter of sensual satisfaction, reflects the joyful state of the true nature of mind; in its unadorned, pristine, brilliant awareness.”

—Excerpt from ‘Contemplating the Undefinable’ in Aesthetic Experience (Routledge, 2007)

ARTICLES AND RESEARCH

MARVELLOUS MURALS AND MAHAKALA MELODIES: EARLY AND LATER KARMA ‘GAR-DRI’ STYLE TIBETAN ART (as presented by 17th Karmapa)

THE ‘CENSORED’ TARA: POWERFUL PASSION VS PRUDISH PURITY. Depictions of women in Buddhist art and literature and the sexual objectification, denigration and censorship of women’s biology and nakedness

‘EXPANDING SMILE OF A FEROCIOUS TIGER’ LOSAR GREETINGS BY 17th KARMAPA and NEW ARTWORK

ART REVIEW: 15th Century Tibetan Tārā with the ‘Roman nose’

ART REVIEW: SIX-ARMED MĀRĪCĪ (OZER CHENMA) BY 17TH KARMAPA

ART REVIEW: Seeing And Revering Nature With Love: Trees Of Dharamsala By Nicholas Vreeland (Buddhist Door Publication)

TIBETAN ART, PRE-GREAT ENCAMPMENT (KARMA GAR-RI) : Indian, Newar and the ‘Three Great Tibetan Styles’ of Men-ri, Khyen-ri and Jeyu-ri (7th -15th Century) -teaching by 17th Karmapa

The Black Hat Eccentric: Tenth Karmapa, Choying Dorje, Supreme Artist and Visionary

Aesthetic Experience, eds. Shusterman, R. and Tomlin, A. (Routledge, 2007)

Painting of Milarepa by 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje