How does one begin to understand the notion of impermanence? Perhaps the fall leaves, the death of a loved one, the sun rise in the morning … or words of wise spiritual teachers?
In the last weeks, the word ‘impermanence’ has been used by three very different people. Rabbi Steinlauf used the word ‘impermanence’ when he welcomed everyone into the Sukkha tent built to represent the temporary nature of life and still being willing to live life fully. A week later in the very same spot stood the Dalai Lama who wished to learn how the Jewish community thrived in exile despite hardships and atrocities. Then an art gallery opening presented Eleanor Kotlarik Wang, whose collection of paintings titled “Impermanence” captured the faded cave paintings of Buddhists images in western China, the very end of the Silk Road.
At first glimpse, the series seems as though of collection of abstract impressionistic illustrations. However, trying to understand, walking up close, standing to the left side and then walking away and looking back from the right side, the realization hit.
Eleanor Wang states, “Impermanence. The Buddha images are an attempt to explore the notion of existence –– to see for a moment an object or life force that appears solid and real, yet is in a stage of change and decay from the moment of its creation. This religious and philosophical component of many of the oriental religions initially confused my more western sensibility which tries solidifying experiences and memories. This more fluid approach to the understanding of life is one of the more mysterious responses to my time in China.”
There is no code to understand the symbols, colors or images. Understanding is just there. As truth is self evident, so is understanding. The concept of impermanence and the contradictory nature is brilliantly captured by Eleanor who engages the viewer into a conversation about “what do you really see?” She explained that just as some of the cave sculptures and paintings in western China are illusions of what they once were and some still as brilliant in color as if they were painted just yesterday. This contradiction of present yet past is this delicate notion of impermanence.
Eleanor Kotlarik Wang, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has recently returned from living in China. Her art is in private collections around the world and currently a series of paintings are on display in Hong Kong through the Art in Embassies program.
To view the current exhibit of Eleanor Kotlarick Wang, visit Gallery Plan B in Washington, D.C. The exhibit will be on display from October 21 to November 22 and is well worth the visit to see the entire collection on display before it, too, disappears to reveal another artist.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C.
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