Reincarnation Exhibit at the Doris McCarthy Gallery

Temple of Western Medicine - a statue made entirely out of pharmaceutical pills

Michael Thorpe admires Temple of Western Medicine by
Zhang Wang, a statue made entirely out of pharmaceutical pills
at the Doris McCarthy Gallery.
Photo credit: Alexandra Lucchesi

A new installation at the Doris McCarthy gallery explores the representation of the Buddha image in modern society.

Reincarnation runs at the University of Toronto at Scarborough Campus (UTSC) until Dec. 16 and features the work of nine artists with different forms of art, including sculpture, painting, video installation and photography.

Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, also refers to “awakened one” and someone who has received spiritual enlightenment.

For this exhibit, it’s more than just a representation of an iconic figure, according to director and curator Ann MacDonald.

“The exhibition is meant to be a contemporary look at representation of the Buddha, or ways of thinking about Buddhism that are not only religious but also possibly cultural references,” she said.

With works from artists of Tibet, Korea, China and the United States, it is a collection that succeeds with international forms of art.

Works include a Buddha sculpture made entirely out of pharmaceutical pills by Beijing artist Zhan Wang, as well as a video installation of outlined images reflected off the walls of a low-lit white room, by Jongbum Choi, of Seoul.

Though they share a strong image, the meaning for each piece is diverse.

Enlightenment Guaranteed by artist Michael Zheng is a Buddha made from Styrofoam and appearing as stone, sitting on legs in denim jeans and running shoes.

“He’s playing with the notion that everyone can be Buddha, but when he speaks about it, he also says that any kind of faith can be a freeing thing – but it can also be burdensome,”MacDonald said.

The exhibition has received positive responses from viewers since opening on Nov. 2 with an evening that included a lecture from Eugene Wang, Professor of Asian Art from Harvard University, as well as an artist’s talk and showing from contemporary artist Will Kwan, Snider Fellowship Artist in residence at UTSC.

With the international representation, there may lay curiosity regarding the diverse significance of each work of art, McDonald said.

“Each artist’s take is very different. There’s a wonderful diversity in the gallery in terms of the objects and the places where the artists come from.”

“I’ve spoken to a few people who thoroughly enjoyed the evening and plan to return more than once to see the exhibit, which is fairly uncommon for art exhibitions,” she said.

Information is available at 416-287-7007.