Himalayan Art Resources

Exhibition: Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha

Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha | Padmasambhava Main Page | Terminology: Second Buddha | Terma, Revealed Treasure

Rubin Museum of Art
FEBRUARY 2, 2018 – JANUARY 7, 2019

Nine of the individual compositions, including painting and sculpture, belong to larger sets of nine or more compositions each which make up the full art work.

Exhibition Review:

Following an early proven strength of the Rubin Museum of Art, Demonic Divine (2004), Wutaishan, Pilgrimage to the Five Peaked Mountain (2007), the latest exhibition The Second Buddha, Master of Time, focuses deeply on a specific topic of Himalayan art. The subject of Padmasambhava a quasi historical mythological figure that has been deified within the regional Buddhist religion and Himalayan cultures.

The popularity and mythology of Padmasambhava began in the beginning of the second millennium, supported by such early Nyingma Buddhist teachers as Nyangral Nyima Ozer and Guru Chowang, as a rejuvenation of earlier Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhism. Since then his cult of devotion and narrative mythologies have only grown and blossomed after the 17th century and the patronage of the 5th Dalai Lama. The subject would have most likely remained obscure and only of academic interest except for the fact that a tremendous amount of art has been created to visually bring to the fore the greater than life persona and deeds of Padmasambhava.

The obvious strengths of the exhibition are three. The first is the singularly focused topic. The second is the majority of works being chosen from the Rubin Museum holdings of art which directly indicates the depth and breadth of the collection. The third strength is the display of a wide range of painting styles, chronologically and regionally diverse, devoted to the same subject, Padmasambhava, the person and depictions of his various life stories. The ability to look at a large number of artworks all related to the same abstract or iconographic subject is rare making this a great opportunity for the study of art, iconography and the abstract themes of philosophy and a living and flourishing religion.

Jeff Watt 2-2018