Gallery Show: Robert Beer
THIS EXHIBITION of contemporary masterpieces of Buddhist and Hindu art draws from the work and collection of the British artist Robert Beer. Robert Beer (born 1947) has studied and practised Tibetan art for more than forty years, and is the author and illustrator of The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs. Over the past 15 years, Beer has been working with the most talented artists of the Kathmandu Valley, supporting and nurturing their skills to assemble the finest and most extensive collection of contemporary Tibetan and Newar art. The Tibetan paintings in this show essentially illustrate the themes of life and death. These include the Life of the Buddha; the cosmology of the universe we inhabit, with its various realms of joy and woe; and the bardo mandala of peaceful and wrathful deities, described symbolically as manifesting between death and rebirth.
The largest part of this show is devoted to the exquisite paintings of the little-known community of Newar artists of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. These artists venerate and depict the tantric gods and goddesses of their vast Hindu and Buddhist pantheon with humility and divine inspiration. The two most renowned Newar artists of the 20th century were Anandamuni Shakya (1903-1944), and his son Siddhimuni Shakya (1933-2001), who both developed innovative styles of painting that have since led to a vibrant renaissance in the modern Newar art movement. These stylistic innovations include sublime photo-realism and chiaroscuro effects created by minute attention to detail, by preternatural light and shadow, and by the increasingly skillful use of oil, acrylic or water-based pigments and techniques.
On show are also a selection of Robert Beer’s brush-and-ink drawings of both Buddhist symbols and Tantric ‘adepts’ (mahasiddhas). Another section is devoted to the Synaesthesia mandala paintings of the late John F B Miles (1944-97), whom Beer regards as his lifelong mentor and friend, and the most powerful visionary artist of his generation.
From 19 April to 26 May at the October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AL, www.octobergallery.co.uk.
Events: A series of lectures has been organised to accompany the exhibition.
21 April Artist’s Talk;
5 May The Cosmology of the Outer and Inner Universe according to the Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Traditions;
8 May Death and Rebrith in the Buddhist Traditions;
18 May Wrathful Deities – an Introduction;
26 May The Legends of the 84 Mahasiddhas of early Indian Buddhism.