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sacred art X fine arts

Hi ,

I am a painter and recently have been painting some inspired Buddhist art. For example I did a painting of white Tara but trying a contemporary approach or did some lino cuts of deities. I gave as gift to some people in the sangha prints of the deities I know they do their practice. Dispite the working being "well done" I was very criticized for not using the sacred proportion used for thangkas.

the style of a thangka is a mix of chinese and indian style for what I can see (forgive me if wrong).

My question is: If I do my art work using Da Vinci's proportion or any contemporary approach and/or technique to represent Buddhist deities or symbols does it invalidate the "spirituality" or sacredness of my work?

Thanks in advance if you took the time to read my question.

"Oceano de Sabedoria"


  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2010
    Your art is a blend of worship and self-expression.

    You think Michaelangelo was criticised for portraying Jesus and the Madonna as western idealised beings rather than the Middle Eastern people they purportedly were?

    Go the way your artistic leanings take you.

    Picasso had no problem putting a person's eyes both on one side of the face.
    I would suggest you feel equally relaxed within your personal interpretations, also.
  • edited July 2010

    Thank you so much for reading my question and answering so quickly. I think in the same way you did and now feel quite relieved that a buddhist person told me that I was kinda thinking it was a Buddhist thing to criticize everything was not a thangka lol. I was almost feeling like if I had painted a Mohamed portrait and offered to a muslim. thanks a lot for your parallels with famous painters it really helped me to understand that these situations are not particular to our religion. best wishes.
  • TreeLuvr87TreeLuvr87 Veteran
    edited July 2010

    Nothing can invalidate the spirituality of your artwork, because it's created directly from the spirit within you. Keep making artwork and be sure to take some pictures and upload for us to see!
  • edited July 2010
    thank you TreeLuvr87, I uploaded one of my paintings as my profile picture. I will look for others to post. best wishes
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2010
    I think it's very beautiful.
    Criticism is in my opinion, shallow and petty, and reactively narrow-minded.
  • RichardHRichardH Veteran
    edited July 2010
    Hi oceano. Same thing here, Buddhist inspiration married to a European tradition of oil painting. The validity is on the easel buddy. :)
  • edited July 2010
    Thanks for appreciating Federica , much love.

    Richard, you rock, your work is breath taking, very inspiring. When I will be a grown one I want to paint like you (don't tell anyone I am 30 next year lol).
  • RichardHRichardH Veteran
    edited July 2010
    Your painting is better than mine was at thirty, and you have a distinctive style established as well. Maybe you can post a JPG?.

    ...but don't feel pressured.
  • RichardHRichardH Veteran
    edited July 2010
    Just checked out your other work. This does seem to be a new departure.
    Painting on the subject of our practice, our spiritual aspiration can be daunting I think. For me, after being settled into a landscape genre, it seemed almost too personally exposing to paint about the sacred. The Sacred is not ...sacred in the contemporary scene, unless it has an ironic twist. It is also so easy to fall into the kitschy conventions of new age representation.
    My own solution was to just embrace the whole thing right down to those wonderfully kitschy pop Buddhist images coming out of Taiwanese Chan.
    The result is pretty dignified.

    It will be interesting to see where you go with this.
  • edited July 2010
    yes I have to say I used to paint things that were much more cultural to me. Now with the practice I wander what to paint every time I stand in front of the canvas. One thing for sure I thank people from the sangha for criticizing me is the fact that they made me ask myself "because I am a buddhist do I have to paint deities and buddhist symbols?" I think I just should continue painting the way I used to do and just follow my natural skills evolution without forcing anything.

    Thanks for your answer and for taking the time to look my artwork . Posting my question here was much more helpful than I could ever expect.

  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited July 2010
    It seems obvious to me that Buddhist art will evolve here in the West just as it did when it moved into any new country/culture. Yes, thangka painting follows very strict rules on the proportions of things, which is fine, but so what? If you want a thangka, go to a thangka painter. There's certainly nothing at all wrong with painting a Buddhist deity drawn from your own cultural gnosis. I've seen some very interesting work come from Western Buddhist practitioners that isn't at all traditional but still captures the essence. I think it's great!

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