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AMSTERDAM - A unique thangka, a scroll painting, from the personal collection of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been made available for the exhibition Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present. Made in Tibet in the nineteenth century, the scroll painting is one of a series illustrating the story of Buddha’s life. On Saturday 15 September, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will perform the official opening of the new exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam and he will view the thangka in its temporary home.

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A unique thangka, a scroll painting, from the personal collection of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Ancient and modern, Ai Weiwei and Yoko Ono
The exhibition brings together thousand-year-old objects and modern art. The oldest object dates from the third century A.D. and the most recent is from 2018. Among the highlights is the standing Buddha, measuring over two meters high and dating from the fifth – sixth century AD, which greets the visitor at the entrance of the exhibition. The show includes a wealth of fascinating ancient sculptures lent by members of the Royal Asian Art Society in the Netherlands (KVVAK), which is celebrating its centenary this year.

The contemporary exhibits are by internationally famous artists like Ai Weiwei, Yoko Ono, Tony Feher, Alicia Framis, Tatsuo Miyajima, Allan Kaprow, Rei Naito, Kohei Nawa, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Carolee Schneemann. Dutch art is also represented with works by Salvador Breed and Koos Breukel.

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Standing Buddha, China, Northern Wei Dynasty, late 5th – early 6th century, Sandstone, 239 x 115 x 33 cm, Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London.

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Standing Buddha, detail, China, Northern Wei Dynasty, late 5th – early 6th century, Sandstone, 239 x 115 x 33 cm, Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London. 

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Standing Buddha, detail, China, Northern Wei Dynasty, late 5th – early 6th century, Sandstone, 239 x 115 x 33 cm, Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London.

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Bouddha Amida, Japan, 1125–75, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Loan from de Koninklijke Vereniging van Vrienden der Aziatische Kunst.

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Buddha Śākyamuni sitting on Mucilinda, Cambodja, Angkor, 12th century, Ger Eenens Collection The Netherlands / Wereldmuseum Rotterdam. Photo: Erik en Petra Hesmerg.

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Head Buddha Śākyamuni, Thailand, Kingdom Lan Na, Chieng Sen, 15th century. Ger Eenens Collection The Netherlands / Wereldmuseum Rotterdam. Photo: Erik en Petra Hesmerg. 

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Thangka, Tibet, 1686. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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Quan Am, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Sculpture from a five-piece group, Vietnam, 17th century. Photo: Erik and Petra Hesmerg.

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Tanjobutsu, the historical Buddha Sakyamuni as infant. Japan, Edo period, 17th- 18th century. Bronze, gold, h. 20 cm. Ger Eenens Collection The Netherlands / Wereldmuseum Rotterdam. Photo: Erik and Petra Hesmerg. 

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Buddha Sakyamuni in Nirwana pose, Thailand, 18th century, 165cm, Ger Eenens Collection The Netherlands / Wereldmuseum Rotterdam.

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Emaciated Buddha Gautama. Thailand, 1890. Bronze, h. 89 cm. Ger Eenens Collection The Netherlands / Wereldmuseum Rotterdam. Photo: Erik and Petra Hesmerg.

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Michelangelo Pistoletto, , Buddha, 2008. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Galleria Christian Stein, Milan, and Simon Lee Gallery, London / Hong Kong. 

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Ai Weiwei, Tree, 640cm, 2010 © Ai Weiwei Studio; Courtesy Lisson Gallery, Photography: JACK HEMS. 

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Yoko Ono, Three Mounds, 1999/2008–2018. Earth; dimensions variable. Exhibition: Between the Sky and My Head, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, 24 Aug. – 16 Nov. 2008Foto │ Photo by Philipp Ottendoerfer © Yoko Ono

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Kohei Nawa, PixCell-Deer#51, 2018
, Mixed media, 219,7 x 189 x 150 cm
. Foto: Nobutada OMOTE | SANDWICH.

Exhibition
The exhibition recounts the life of the Buddha. Born a wealthy prince in the fifth century BC, he chose at the age of 29 to adopt a completely different way of life. The various phases in his life – his birth, renunciation, enlightenment, first sermon and death – symbolize Buddhist belief and form the narrative of this exhibition. The essence of Buddhism is enlightenment, attainable via a consciousness of the here and now. The exhibition makers, including co-curator and designer Siebe Tettero, illustrate the ‘now’ by including works by contemporary artists; some of these are new pieces specially created for this exhibition. Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present will run from 16 September 2018 to 3 February 2019.

Opening: dialogue and livestream
The exhibition will be opened by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the morning of Saturday 15 September. The opening will take the form of a dialogue, conducted with young people and innovators in the world of technology, on the subject of Compassion and Technology. The event will be organized in close cooperation with SingularityU The Netherlands. The dialogue will take place behind closed doors, but will be livestreamed to the public. More information on the location and digital link to the livestream will follow.

 

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Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama (2-L) opens the exhibition Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present at De Nieuwe kerk in Amsterdam on September 15, 2018. The 83-year-old Dalai Lama will be in the Netherlands for four days. Koen van Weel / ANP / AFP