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Beneath the Buddha — art talk

April 2 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Fom the pathway up Stone Hill, the Clark Art Institute shows through the trees, with a view to the mountains.
Photo by Kate Abbott

In this Research and Academic Program lecture, Cynthea J. Bogel (Kyushu University / Clark Fellow) examines motifs on the pedestal of a key eighth-century sculpture: a colossal gilt-bronze Buddha (Nara period, 710–784) and the main icon of the temple Yakushiji. Scholars interpret the pedestal motifs as a pastiche of Sinitic symbols inconsistent with Buddhist representation.

Bogel understands the pedestals of important seventh and early-eighth century icons as presenting motif programs, which she names “cosmoscapes” and demonstrates that the pedestals in tandem with the icons represent complex belief systems and cosmologies experienced as concomitant with Buddhist praxis.

The Yakushiji pedestal, like the contemporaneous 720 Nihon shoki (a “national history”), reifies and perpetuates the imaginaire of a Sino-style imperial realm using symbols of a Sinic imperium juxtaposed with its antithetic barbarian subjects. Through fresh interpretations, Bogel situates these icons as unedited and overlooked evidence for beliefs and ideologies during a decisive period of Japanese history.

Cynthea J. Bogel was professor of Japanese art and Buddhist visual culture in East Asia at Kyushu University (Japan) from 2012–2023 and associate professor at the University of Washington from 1999–2012. She was director of the International Research Center for the Humanities at Kyushu University and founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University, serving as its chief editor until 2023.

Her work includes the monograph With a Single Glance: Buddhist Icon and Early Mikkyō Vision, a co-authored book on Hiroshige’s ukiyoe, articles on ancient and contemporary Japanese art, curation and catalogues for museums including the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the University of Oregon, and a documentary film produced with Nguyen Thi Hien on mortuary talisman robes and rites in northern Vietnam. At the Clark, she will continue writing a book on cosmologies and Buddhist icons in ancient Japan.

Free. Accessible seats available.

More info »

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Event Details

Details

Date:
April 2
Time:
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Event Location

Clark Art Institute
225 South Street
Williamstown, MA
413 458 2303

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