meditation

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Art

Meditative Faces Emerge from the Staggered Wooden Sticks Forming Artist Gil Bruvel's Sculptures

September 17, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Breathe” (2020). All images © Gil Bruvel, shared with permission

Gil Bruvel (previously) has spent 40 years practicing vipassanā meditation, an introspective practice that invites judgment-free observation of the mind. The Australia-born artist infuses the philosophies of this decades-long ritual into his variegated sculptures as he forms a series of faces in deep thought. With eyes and mouths closed, the figures project serenity and calmness, serving as “a reminder of what it looks like to be centered and at peace,” Bruvel says of The Mask Series.

Different in shape and size, the sticks are burned, painted with subtle gradients, and then held in place with wood glue, causing the figures to appear pixelated and as a disparate grouping of squares and rectangles when viewed up close. From a distance, however, “that fragmentation reveals a coherent whole: a face arises from apparent chaos,” Bruvel shares with Colossal. Through their collated forms, the assemblages offer a visual metaphor for the complexity and contradiction that’s inherent to human beings.

Bruvel also draws attention to the backs of the sculptures, which stray from the figurative depictions of the front to focus on the abstract workings of the mind.  “The assemblage of pixel-like stick-ends conveys the hidden realm of emotion, sensation, and thought—our internal universe. The gradients of color represent the flows of feeling and consciousness that pass through our minds like ripples on a lake, leaving the lake unchanged,” he says.

Explore more of Bruvel’s meditative artworks and see some works-in-progress on Instagram and Artsy.

 

“Floating” (2019), burnt wooden sticks and acrylic paint, 24 × 21 inches

“Mask #28” (2020), wood and paint, 16 × 16 × 9 inches

“The Fountain” (2019), wood and paint, 27 × 19 × 23 inches

“The Fountain” (2019), wood and paint, 27 × 19 × 23 inches

“Moonlight” (2019), wood and paint, 22 × 22 × 21 inches

“Moonlight” (2019), wood and paint, 22 × 22 × 21 inches

“Mask #22” (2020), wood and paint, 16 × 16 × 9 inches

“Mask #26” (2020), wood and paint, 16 × 16 × 9 inches

“Breathe” (2020)

 

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Art

This Too Shall Pass: How Spanish Artist Escif's Meditating Woman Lit Up Valencia

March 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Escif, shared with permission

The beginning of Escif’s Instagram post reads, “Yesterday the meditator’s body was burned. With it many things were burned. 4 tons of wood were burned. A year of intense and wonderful work was burned.” Attached to a darkened image of glowing flames, his words are simultaneously reflective, accepting, and hopeful.

The Spanish artist is referring to his large-scale project “This Too Shall Pass,” which was scheduled to be part of Valencia’s Las Fallas Festival. Each year, the outdoor celebration sees massive projects created by artists—like Okuda San Miguel in 2018 and PichiAvo in 2019—that are set on fire and eventually consumed by flames. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 event that would have featured Escif’s work was postponed. Despite its lack of spectators, though, the Spanish city decided to proceed with part of the traditional ceremony, lighting just the bottom half of Escif’s wooden sculpture on fire.

This is a familiar story. Creatives, businesses, and institutions around the world are struggling with the loss of revenue as exhibitions and shows have been pushed to a later date or canceled altogether. They’re also dealing with the more emotional impact of projects unrealized, something Escif has been sharing candidly.

This is not the end we expected. Neither are the circumstances. The magnitude of this figure can never be. Perhaps another woman, perhaps a part of it, perhaps only the memory, perhaps only her absence… The meditating woman tells us that everything is impermanent. Nothing is forever. We will overcome the emptiness of these failures.

Topping 20 meters tall, the artist’s wooden figure is dressed in a white button-up with dark pants. She sits in the lotus position with closed eyes and a straight back and represents quiet, thoughtfulness, and moments of peace. “From this woman’s ashes, live flowers will be born. And little insects will scatter its seeds. Seeds of conscience, of peace, of humanity. Seeds of light that help us face the new world that is being born these days,” Escif writes.

Although her bottom half has been burned, the figure’s head and shoulders will remain in Valencia Public Square until the crisis ends. To fit the current moment, the artist outfitted her with a surgical mask that covers her nose and mouth. “Meditating is the exercise of training our consciousness in the acceptance of impermanence,” the artist said. “Reality is changing and ephemeral. We are living in an uncertain moment that we do not know where it will take us. Let’s listen to what this meditating woman tells us. This too shall pass.”

 

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Art History

CT Scan of 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue Reveals Mummified Monk Hidden Inside

February 21, 2015

Christopher Jobson

monk

Photo by M. Elsevier Stokmans; Boeddhamummie (Drents Museum)

ct-scan

(MMC / Jan van Esch)

What looks like a traditional statue of Buddha dating back to the 11th or 12th century was recently revealed to be quite a bit more. A CT scan and endoscopy carried out by the Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, showed the ancient reliquary fully encases the mummified remains of a Buddhist master known as Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School. While it was known beforehand the remains of a person were inside, another startling discovery was made during the scan: where the organs had been removed prior to mummification, researches discovered rolls of paper scraps covered in Chinese writing.

The Liuquan mummy has since been transported to Hungary where it will be on view at the Hungarian Natural History Museum through May of 2015. (via Robs Webstek, Neatorama, Creators Project)

Update: Among some practicing Buddhists it’s been said that similar mummies “aren’t dead” but are instead in an advanced state of meditation. (thnx, Alan!)