The Pondering Grapefruit
a blog of moments and musings
I went to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco recently. It was the first time in my life that I had been to a museum specifically dedicated to Asian art, and it was no short of a life changing experience. I felt a very distinct pride in being Asian-American which I had never felt before.
In exploring every floor, I walked through the art histories of India, China, Tibet, Korean, Japan, Vietnam, and so many other countries. They had set up the museum to show the influences of religion on art styles. So, aside from learning about the art, I gained insight into the political history, rise and fall of empires, and religious influences on each nation.
For example, I saw how extensively Buddhism had affected the belief systems of China, especially during turbulent times. It offered sanctuary and hope to people and thus was readily adopted into society. Buddhism, when merged with the pre-existing tradition of ancestor worship, culminated in a very intricate, elaborate art style that often focused on natural beauty.
Another interesting observation was how Hinduism influence so much of Buddhist art in India--all of a sudden the Buddha had so many arms. Or how Islamic influences on southern India produced art forms nostalgic of Arabic scripts. What struck me the most though, was the distinctive, animated nature of Japanese art.
The first image was of a burial statue from Japan's earliest history. Even from its oldest period, the art already had an almost humorous quality to it. I then saw the netsuke figurines and was amazed at how comical they were: figures sticking out their tongues, pulling pranks on others, stubbing their toes. This was such a stark contrast from the reserved, traditional style of Chinese and Korean art that I saw just prior.
What I think made the difference was Japan's longstanding belief in animated spirits. As a result of this belief, their art becomes animated too, expressing so much emotion and narrative. It's incredible to think about how much one belief can influence, not just an individual, but the course of a nation.
After making this connection, I see that everything, all action, all thoughts, all that is put into the world, originates from a core belief, and as such, I have become more motivated to change my own beliefs.
Now that's how you know a museum is well curated!
About this Blog
I have no idea how to describe what my writing is about. I just write. I post when I can, which can be weekly or monthly depending on where the universe is taking me. As for the Grapefruit, my Vietnamese nickname, Buoi, means grapefruit.