Kathmandu Photo Gallery, in collaboration with Buddhadasa Indapanyo Archives, presents an exhibition of 30 photos of the late Buddhadasa Bhikku (1906-1993), one of the country's most revered monks and a forgotten photography master.
Buddhadasa Bhikku will be on show at Kathmandu Photo Gallery from tomorrow until June 30. The opening party is on tomorrow at 6.30pm. The gallery is located onPan Road(near Indian Temple), Silom, and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11amto 7pm. Call 02-234-6700.
By 1972, Buddhadasa Bhikku had reached the age of 66 and the status of a famous enlightened monk. He struggled to reject all attempts to turn his portraits into icons of superstitious worship, which at that time (as it is now) was all the craze. He wanted people to realise the essence of Buddhism, not to cling to the egoism of "I and mine". When he finally saw that his fight against the holy picture craze was futile, Buddhadasa embarked on a series of self-portraits, using the environs of Suan Mokkh Monastery (in Surat Thani) as the location, with all its scattered symbolic props _ a statue of Bodhisattva Sri Vijaya, lotus flowers, mounds of dirt, rocks, and even monastery pets.
At times he's posing alone, employing tricks in the monastery darkroom to compose double and triple exposures to create a dhamma riddle, inviting the viewer to interpret with wisdom.
Each picture was accompanied by a dhamma-teaching poem he'd written to accompany it. The series is entitled "Dharma Text Next to Image".
These 423 Buddhist poems and photographs clearly reveal Buddhadasa's understanding of art and technology _ particularly the potential power of photography to serve as a medium for spreading dhamma's visionary ideas _ far ahead of his time, when the Thai art world still had no inkling of conceptual art and photography.
The 30 images on show are printed and enlarged from the original artworks.
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