January 24th, 2009
Pranayama, 2002, p101. Click for larger version.
Comments Donald Kuspit, “The ecstatic moment of full consciousness of the metaphysical truth about existence is a moment of aesthetic shock: concretizing the metaphysical truth [of the doctrine of Sunyata], Qadri’s icons give us an aesthetic shock. ‘The Pali word samvega is often used to denote the shock or wonder that may be felt when the perception of a work of art becomes a serious experience,’ Ananda Coomaraswamy writes. The perception of a work of art becomes a serious experience when it stirs ‘the will or mind’ to ‘consideration of the Eight Emotional Themes (birth, old age, sickness, death, and suffering arising in four other ways),’ and, ‘in the resulting state of distress, then gladdens it by the recollection of the Buddha, the Eternal Law… when it is in need of such gladdening’. Thus meditation on Qadri’s icons is therapeutic. The tensions in them — between contrasting colors, lines, and rhythms as well as light and dark — evoke our inner conflicts and distress even as their aesthetic resolution gladdens us, finally raising our spirits” (p14).
“Thus aesthetic shock is two-sided: it subverts ordinary consciousness by exposing the conflicts hidden by it even as it signals the extraordinary consciousness that resolves them. Qadri’s icons are as divided against themselves — fault lines run through some of them — as they are unified. They shock us into awareness of the eternal law stated in the doctrine of Sunyata. Meditation is not some mindless act of egoistic communion with oneself, but upsets one’s sense of selfhood, however, ultimately calming and enlightening by reason of its revelation of the eternal law. But the way to Buddha-like calm is through aesthetic delight, as Qadri’s icons show” (p14-15).