© Collection Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London

Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present

Starting Sunday, September 16, ancient and modern are spectacularly combined in the exhibition Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present at De Nieuwe Kerk.

You will enjoy a wealth of thousands of years old objects and contemporary art from artists including Ai Weiwei and Yoko Ono. The earliest object dates from the third century A.D. and the most recent from 2018, since some of the installations are being created especially for this exhibition.

The ancient works of art recount the life of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha. Born a wealthy prince in the fifth century BC, he chose at the age of 29 to renounce his royal lifestyle and devote himself to spiritual development. The various phases in his life – his birth, renunciation, enlightenment, discourses and death – are the wellspring of Buddhism and form the narrative of this exhibition.

Contemporary art
The essence of Buddhism is enlightenment, attainable via a consciousness of the here and now. The exhibition makers have therefore chosen to include the ‘now’, representing it by works from 13 well-known artists of today. One of Ai Weiwei’s iconic trees will occupy a key position, alongside art by other contemporary figures like Yoko Ono, Kohei Nawa and Salvador Breed.

Standing Buddha, Collection Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London Reclining Boeddha, Thailand, 18th Century, collection Ger Eenens Ai Weiwei, Tree, 2010 © Ai Weiwei Studio Courtesy Lisson Gallery, Photography: JACK HEMS
From left to right: Standing Buddha, 239cm, Collection Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London; Buddha Sakyamuni in Nirwana pose, 165cm, Thailand, 18th century, Ger Eenens Collection The Netherlands / Wereldmuseum Rotterdam; Ai Weiwei, Tree, 640cm, 2010 © Ai Weiwei Studio; Courtesy Lisson Gallery, Photography: JACK HEMS

The exhibition has been developed by the curators of De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam and co-curator Siebe Tettero. There has been close cooperation with the Asian Art Society in the Netherlands (VVAK), which is celebrating its centenary this year, and the exhibition will include an extraordinary selection of items from the VVAK’s extensive collection. Generous loans are also being made by the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands National Museum of World Cultures, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and private collectors.

Online tickets are available this summer.

© Collection Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London