One of the finest private collections of Japanese paintings in the country, the Sanso Collection, will be on display in “Zen! Japanese Paintings from the Sanso Collection,” at Scripps College’s Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery. The exhibit runs October 31 through December 6, 2009. An opening reception will be held in the gallery on Monday, November 2, at 7 p.m., offering guests a view of the collection against a background of live, traditional, Japanese Koto music. The events are free and open to the public.
The paintings in the exhibition survey the wide variety of responses to the teachings of Zen Buddhism over hundreds of years. From 15th-century landscapes and portraits of Zen eccentrics to 19th-century images of the Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma and the Bodhisattva of Compassion Kannon, the exhibition explores how Zen ideas were translated into ink paintings by a number of Japan’s prominent Zen masters.
“Since so much of the Zen tradition depends on personal experience, these paintings give students and visitors a direct link to some of Japan’s most famous Zen masters and artists,” remarked Bruce Coats, professor of art history and the humanities at Scripps College. The paintings on display, each chosen by Professor Coats, are shown in conjunction with courses on Japanese arts and culture offered at Scripps College, affording students a wider opportunity to learn about the arts.
In addition to this exhibition, another will be held at Scripps’ Clark Humanities Museum — “Japanese N? Theater Prints.” Woodblock prints depicting actors and scenes from famous N? dramas have been selected from among 200 such works in the Scripps College collection.
Three complementary lectures about Japanese arts take place in November and December: From the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Mae Smethurst, professor of classics, and Dr. Richard Smethurst, professor of history, will speak on November 5, at 4:15 p.m., and 8 p.m., respectively. Dr. Mae Smethurst’s lecture compares the Japanese N? theater to ancient Greek drama (sponsored by the Clark Lecture Fund at Scripps College); Dr. Richard Smethurst will discuss Japanese woodblock print artist Tsukioka Kogyo and his depictions of the N? theater during the 19th and 20th centuries (sponsored by the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College). Both lectures will be held at the Clark Humanities Museum. On December 3, at 8 p.m., Professor Gregory Levine, UC Berkeley, will present “On the Look and Logos of Zen Art,” (sponsored by WorldBridge). Professor Levine has authored and co-authored books on the arts of Zen Buddhism — Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery (2005) and Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan (2007). The location of Levine’s lecture is to be announced.
The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is located at Eleventh Street and Columbia Avenue, adjacent to Baxter Hall. During exhibitions, the gallery is open to the public, free of charge, Wednesday through Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, please contact the gallery at (909) 607-3397.
The exhibition has been organized in conjunction with the Drucker School and the Drucker Institute of the Claremont Graduate University. This is the initial event in a week of celebrations for the Drucker Centennial. For more information about the Drucker Centennial events, please email Drucker100@cgu.edu or call (909) 607-6007.