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the sound of one hand

December 24, 2010
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[NYTimes] Every so often we are shocked — shocked! — to learn that a great artist was not such a great human being. In these disillusioned modern times, we have learned to separate artistic and literary achievement from the artist’s moral character. We may admire the works of Tolstoy, Céline, Picasso and Pollock and overlook their failings as people. Still, the fantasy that spiritual and artistic evolution should go hand in hand is hard to give up.

So it is refreshing to encounter an artist who was, by all accounts, a man of transcendent character who made commensurately wonderful art. Such a rare case is that of Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768), the Japanese calligrapher and draftsman, who is regarded by those in the know as the most important Zen master of the last 500 years. It was Hakuin who came up with the koan “What is the sound of one hand?” to which popular imagination has added “clapping.” (read)

exhibition website

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. roxana permalink
    December 26, 2010 10:26 am

    one of my favourite paintings, ever. and blessed are those who can see this exhibition in person, i think you must agree with me.

  2. December 26, 2010 10:32 am

    this painting and its variations are truly great. and this is definitely one of the finer exhibitions of the year.

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