© Collection Ben Janssens, 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. Admire 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, first sermon and death – symbolize Buddhist belief 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, including co-curator and designer Siebe Tettero, illustrate the ‘now’ by including works by contemporary artists; some of these are new pieces specially created for this exhibition. The contemporary exhibits are by internationally famous artists like Ai Weiwei, Yoko Ono, Tony Feher, Alicia Framis, Tatsuo Miyajima, Allan Kaprow, Rei Naito, Kohei Nawa, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Carolee Schneemann. Dutch art is also represented with works by Salvador Breed and Koos Breukel.

Upon entry, the visitor is welcomed by one of the highlights from the exhibition: a standing Buddha, measuring over two meters high and dating from the fifth – sixth century AD. After that, the visitor is attracted to works by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and Kohei Nawa from Japan. Tree (2010), a piece by Ai Weiwei, and Kohei Nawa’s PixCell-Deer#51 (2018) appear visually and conceptually connected to the Buddha’s life story.

Still ‘The Buddha here and now’

In honour of the exhibition, visual artist Alice Helenklaken made a personal and poetic film entitled The Buddha here and now as a contemporary reflection on the life and teachings of the Buddha. The story is told by Matthijs Schouten and can be viewed online here.

Personal loan from Dalai Lama for exhibition
A unique thangka,a scroll painting, from the personal collection of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been made available for this exhibition. Made in Tibet in the nineteenth century, the scroll painting is one of a series illustrating the story of Buddha’s life. On Saturday 15 September, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will perform the official opening of the new exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam and he will view the thangka in its temporary homeThis event will take place behind closed doors, but will be livestreamed to the public. More information on the location and digital link to the livestream will follow.

In cooperation with the Buddhist Film Festival Europe (BFFE2018@EYE), the Nieuwe Kerk organizes a gathering in the art club of Arti et Amicitiae (Rokin 112). There the live stream will be broadcasted on a large screen on September 15. Sign up via info@Arti.nl (mandatory), entrance fee € 8 (including breakfast), walk-in between 8.30 – 9 am.

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 Royal Asian Art Society in the Netherlands (KVVAK), which is celebrating its centenary this year, and the exhibition will include an extraordinary selection of items from the KVVAK’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.

Book your tickets now online!
Tickets are now online available – please go to the ticket shop via the menu on the right. Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present will run from 16 September 2018 to 3 February 2019.

© Collection Ben Janssens, London