PARIS.- The Song dynasty is the founding period of the modern Chinese culture. Inventions such as gunpowder, paper currency and the printing technique are all attributed to the Chinese community, as well as developed irrigation techniques and important reforms which stimulated the development of agriculture.
In the arts, classical painting displaying the fusion of poetry and calligraphy reached its peak during this period. In the temples of Shanxi, Buddhist sculpture evolved from the Romanesque period and blossomed into a gothic style, privileging wood over stone.
For the 26th Biennale des Antiquaires, the Jacques Barrère Gallery presents an important collection of Chinese Buddhist sculptures from the Song dynasty. Three large standing Bodhisattvas will form the heart of this selection. Destined to decorate the temples in Shanxi, these graceful sculptures reveal a proud yet gracious presence, icons of Chinese gothic sculpture.
Sculptors gradually liberated themselves from the austere cannons of Buddhist art during the Song dynasty. The message at this time was not only religious, but also about a transmission and celebration of the sculptures beauty.
The ethnic faces are extremely expressive yet less romanticised. Representations of Luohan display human features, presenting a variety of expressions and reminding us of the accessibility of the Buddhist religion. These striking faces are reminiscent of the diversity in China, symbolising the embracing openness to the world.
A representation of Avalokite?vara stands serenely, surrounded by ten of the most beautiful known examples. A large majority of the largest Buddhist representations from the Song dynasty are today conserved in the most illustrious western museums, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Museum of Kansas City and the Royal Ontario Museum. The most distinguished and complete collection can be found at the Metropolitan Museum. These artworks come from prestigious collections in Europe and the United States, including the Tai collection in New York, Weishaupt in Berlin and Foerster in Vienna.
If the sculptures in wood have a domineering presence, a magnificent representation in bronze of Ananda and Kasyapa, the two preferred disciples of Buddha are ever-present, as well a stone sculpture of Luohan meditating. Three funerary sculptures from the Liao dynasty will be exhibited, one of which is a rare funerary maquette.
The exhibition will bring together the most important sculptures from the Song dynasty since the 1950s.