10am to 5pm (closes 1pm on final day)
If you are interested in attending the Opening Ceremony on 21 August, 3pm to 5:30pm, please RSVP via this website
The 23 paintings demonstrate the artist’s transition from the preoccupations of a ‘layman of earthly ties’ – which included ‘anxieties, powerlessness and confusion of urban dwellers’ to the Zen paintings of a pastoral hermit.
From an impoverished background, the artist, born with the name Hu Yongpeng in 1967 in the city of Yongan, south east China, remembers how his appetite for painting was so strong as a child, that he collected minerals from the nearby Wuyi Mountains to draw and paint on the walls and floors of his home.
His affinity with Buddhism was also deep rooted in childhood, but he struggled with his personal kharma. It wasn’t until after Yongpeng studied and taught as an artist, that he felt shaken by the spirit of Buddha. He became ‘enlightened’ through a visit to an eminent monk Master Yuan Yin and became a monk in 2002.
His art transformed.
Chinese art critic Guyue Feifeng said: “Master Dahan’s art now is completely different from his paintings before his enlightenment. He used to strongly express his sense of self with a vigorous brush, whereas his work now emphasizes Buddhist understanding and anatta – or non-self. He is a Buddhist artist who has gone through a baptism of modernism.”
His Zen painting style of natural environments integrates Chinese and Western landscape aesthetics, but the colours and hues he chooses aim to express emptiness. He draws with Zen, to explain the mountains, rivers, earth, universe and stars, with the hope that it fills viewers’ hearts with Dharma joy.
Dahan said: “It wasn’t until I was first touched by the light of Zen that I felt lifted from life’s dilemma by a power from beyond. Buddhism resonates with my desire to use art to transform society through beauty and peace and I feel that contemporary Zen art is a counter-product to our fast food culture.”
Now, as head monk in an ancient mountain top temple, which he helped to rebuild by hand, he aims to mix his dedication to his faith with creating art. His most recent work has the twin aims of depicting the awe he has for his religion and of guiding viewers through their own spiritual search.
Dahan paints with acrylic on linen and rice paper and uses bone fragments, gold, silver, traditional Chinese medicine and other organic materials.
Dahan said: “I wanted to come to the UK to learn and communicate and to see how the British public will react to my work. The UK was one of the first countries to complete the industrial revolution, it is highly-developed, has a world-class education system and a reputation for excellent manners. Britain also has a host of extremely talented artists, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, Gainsborough, Constable, Turner, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. My experience here may also bring inspiration and revelation to my future artistic creations.”