Asia Society. Item #45835
"I want the space inside the Buddha image to be a place of refuge for viewers seeking calmness and contentment," said Montien Boonma, the preeminent Thai artist, considered by some to be the face of Buddhism in contemporary art. In the troubled and turbulent context that was life at the end of the 20th century, Boonma explored art as a space of refuge and peace. His inspiration derived from his Buddhist faith and his own spiritual quest, which he communicated to the viewer through drawings, mixed media works, and installations. His contemplative art provided a way of life, an alternative to the Western idolatry of the ego. Rarely employing the figurative, Boonma used shapes, forms, and different textures to explore the process of meditation and healing, and to reflect an inspirational and tragic life in which love, death, and rebirth intertwined. Heeding the warnings of a Buddhist monk who predicted that their love would lead to untold suffering, he and his wife lived apart from the day they were married. Her death from breast cancer inspired some of his most beautiful work. His own premature death in August 2000 marked a great loss to contemporary Asian art.