Evaluation: Buddhism conjures up Alan Caomin Xie, refined works at Sandler Hudson

The title of Alan Caomin Xie’s Seven Desires of the Lotus Sutra, at Sandler Hudson by June 10, is drawn from seven Buddhist parables acquainted to the artist since his childhood. Nonetheless, these refined works on paper are associated to the parables principally by what Xie calls (in his artist’s assertion) a “far-fetched” non secular kinship and shared sensibility; they’re by no means illustrations.

And but their imagery is as evanescent because the boundary between our on a regular basis world of illusions, which Buddhism calls samsara, and the Actuality that Buddhism calls — which, as Xie has commented, is something however the “vacancy” of the same old translation.

Commenting on the Buddhist ideas underlying his artwork in recent times, the Atlanta-based Xie modestly says: “My superficial understanding of Buddhist philosophy leads me to favor creativeness, maybe delirium, over symbolism.”

Xie is a professor of artwork at Clayton State College in Morrow, Georgia. (Picture by Xie)

Xie begins with giant sheets of paper, which he covers with a layer of liquefied powdered graphite, After this preparatory stage, the paper is allowed to dry, however is then re-wet, ceaselessly by rainfall fairly than by synthetic means. (On one event, the moist paper froze in a single day, creating extraordinary textures.)

After the paper dries once more, he applies glue, to which he sticks tiny dots of silver that type patterns, lots of which appear like constellations. Different line drawings, barely seen, counsel creatures that determine within the Buddhist parables, or different photos akin to butterflies and the outlines of buildings. Additional results of texture are achieved by erasure.

The impression is magical — a phrase that’s normally simply rhetorical extra, however on this case is an irresistible analogy. What lastly emerges on the paper is troublesome to see, absolutely rising solely at completely different angles and in numerous lights. All of the works are between troublesome and unimaginable to seize absolutely in {a photograph}.

Regardless of the linkage in titles (and, ultimately, in refined photos) to the parables of the Lotus Sutra, Xie started the sequence with the notion of viewing issues from a panorama on Mars, an inspiration that’s surprisingly seen in his 2020 Clear Mountain: The ghostly panorama bears a unprecedented resemblance to the scene revealed by the Mars Rover.

Xie selected Mars as his metaphoric panorama as a result of it represents a spot that nobody has ever visited in individual but is a vacation spot that many individuals discover alluring regardless of its barren bleakness.

I may explicate intimately different work within the exhibit, as an example Deer King Jataka, which relies on one of many Jataka tales concerning the earlier incarnations of the Buddha. However these artworks incarnate their message differently from the tales to which they refer. One of the simplest ways to expertise them and really feel their impression is to see them up shut, in individual.

It’s higher for me, then, to cease right here, and advocate an instantaneous gallery go to. After experiencing them, chances are you’ll imagine of this overview what Xie wrote in his artist’s assertion about his motives for the work, that are adopted by a retelling of the seven parables:

“Upon patiently studying by these great seven parables of the Lotus Sutra,” he writes, “chances are you’ll uncover that my earlier statements had been mere gibberish.”


Dr. Jerry Cullum’s evaluations and essays have appeared in Artwork Papers journal, Uncooked Imaginative and prescientArtwork in AmericaARTnewsWorldwide Journal of African-American Artwork and plenty of different in style and scholarly journals. In 2020 he was awarded the Rabkin Prize for his excellent contribution to arts journalism. 

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