The Great Wave, Katsushika Hokusai. Courtesy of SAM.
It is hard to understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of Asian art and to be able to understand the diverse themes and ideas behind the works. The art of Asia is so different from the art we see in most of Seattle’s museums it is almost startling. But as you walk through Luminous: The Art of Asia, you start to absorb the aura of this culture and cultivate a new respect for it. Walking through the exhibit you can’t decide whether you are walking through an art museum full of wonderful sculptures, paintings, and pottery or through a history museum exploring the diverse growth of Asian artwork through time. In the end, you decide it is both. The pieces shown are all beautiful in their own way. From the broken sculptures highlighting a scarred history to paintings from the current century that highlight the continuous culture of the area, all art has a story to tell. Give yourself plenty of time to walk through this exhibit of 160 pieces. The awe and wonder of these pieces can’t be fully felt unless you find time to read the information on the artwork. Allow yourself to be dumbfounded by the well-preserved art from the 600’s as well as contemplate Do Ho Suh’s “Gate”. Although the striking and colorful art often catches ones eye first, be sure to look closely at the more humble pieces. This exhibit illustrates the finite attention to detail that is in much of Asian art. The kimonos on the walls are easily overlooked, but have stitch work and designs that teach. The “bojagi“ show the culture of the women of Asia and tell us a story of how the girls are taught patience and diligence. Luminous: The Art of Asia is an experience worth spending hours absorbing. What better way is there to understand a new culture than to delve into its soul through its art?
Luminous: The Art of Asia
Through January 8
Seattle Art Museum