Reading into the iconography of the
region of Southesat Asia necessarily involves the need to be aware
and understand the cosmogony of the philosophical and religious
foundations of the region, particularly of India. Nowhere in
Southeast Asian countries can we not be confronted with influences
and linkages which hark back to that country for their origins
from early times.
The Vedas, the Brahmanas, and the Upanishads with the great epics
of the Mahabharata, Puranas and the Ramayana, had been crucial in
terms of the philosophical and theological foundations of
Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Tantrism, and a host of other
religious belief- systems that took root across Asia and Southeast
Asia, giving us unique cultures and their embedded value- systems.
Great monuments such as Borobudur, Prambanan and the Angkor
complex of temples with their rich iconography are testimony to
the widespread influence of the cosmology in this region. The
influence also brought about fascinating facets of traditions
encompassing music, dance, the shadow play, textiles,
architecture, fine metalwork, wood-carving, and a whole range of
material culture that effloresced "like a thousand- petalled
lotus over the region".
of the Dance of the Apsaras is a celebration of the spiritual
foundations of the arts of the region with its unique form,
meaning and aesthetics developed over the millennia. Prana,
Kundalini Yoga or Shakti power, the energy life-force of Hinduism
and Tantrism, the Mother Goddess concept as the creative force of
the cosmos, 'karma', reincarnation and the transmigration of
souls, the Way of the Tao, the incandescent illuminating
'rebirths' of Buddhism, and the dying-resurrecting godhead of the
Mysteries of another geographical sphere are explored for the
underlying meaning infused in the creative and symbolic
efflorescence of the arts across Asia and Southeast Asia.
well as the aniconic traditions of Asia are as old as the hills.
The profound dimensions of their aesthetics are essentially
different in conception, evolution and involution in artistic
terms from the Hellenistic or Renaissance Art traditions of
traditions are only a few hundred years old, good in the
perception of mental materiality, and are at the 'crossroads' of
crisis with the clash of civilizations and cultural foundations).
There is a breadth and depth in the wisdom of the east that can
touch the psyche in relation to beauty of another dimension, that
is the "beauty of thought and nobility of significance"
essentially different from the "the Greek desire of a supreme
craftsman for beauty as an end in itself'.
"Essentially qualitative, like
life itself, the Mind does not occupy space. For that very reason,
it has no bounds in its mastery of space...
In Music, Man is revealed, not in a noise.
A lotus has in common with a piece of rotten flesh the elements of
carbon and hydrogen. In a state of creation the difference is
immense." Tagore (The
Religion of Man)
"Where the fire(Agni) is
Where the breath(Vayu) is controlled
Where the nectar(Soma) overflows
There the mind is born."
Hapseri-Borobudur) has been chosen as the theme for this
exhibition as a celebration to the traditions of the region that
could be reconfigured or reconstituted with regard to the meaning
Yeoh Jin Leng