image preview

Creation Date

Fall 2016


Richard Turner

Location: 3rd floor
Materials: stone, wood

When the Bodhidharma first arrived in China he is said to have spent nine years meditating in silence in a cave near the Shaolin monastery. This legendary episode of “wall gazing” is the subject of many paintings, including one by the 15th century Japanese painter Sesshu Toyo. In Sesshu’s version the Bodhidharma faces the cave wall, brow deeply furrowed, bulging and eyes wide open. The wall of the cave, as Sesshu renders it, conforms roughly to the contours of the Bodhidharma’s figure. This is conventionally interpreted as the artist’s way of expressing the harmony between the natural world and the Bodhidharma’s effort to achieve enlightenment.

Inspired by Sesshu’s painting, this arrangement pairs a Vietnamese wood carving of the Bodhidharma with a Chinese stone. The stone and the woodcarving sit on corner pieces (cut stone used to finish the outside corners of masonry surface). The drama of the Bodhidharma’s quest for satori is set on a base intended to suggest a stage for a Japanese Noh play. The Bodhidharma gazes fiercely upward towards the stone. The stone seems to recoil from the intensity of his determined look. But this is not an adversarial relationship. The colors and textures of the stone and the wood complement one another. The Bodhidharma and the stone become one.