A visit to the British Museum on Saturday 18th January at 12.00 noon to see ‘The Lohan’.
This ceramic seated figure of a Buddhist monk, one of a group of eight figures found in caves near Yixian in 1912, has a particular quality of silence and contemplation, yet gives the sense of being extraordinarily alive and full of vitality.
Following our visit we will present a short illustrated talk in central London on the subject of ‘Objective Art’.
Since 1914 a Chinese ceramic Lohan, a realised Buddhist monk, has been in the British Museum. This figure is one of eight similar figures considered to be part of a group which was found in caves at a mountain site near Yixian some eighty miles south-west of Beijing in 1912. This statue has the reputation, in certain circles, of being an example of 'Objective Art'.
A small group of people from Octave visited the British Museum specifically to sit quietly in front of the Lohan and observe their response to it. When invited to speak of their feelings after the visit, those who did so had clearly received a remarkable uniformity of experience, in particular the sense of an emanation of power registered in the solar plexus, and the strong impression that the figure was actually alive, breathing, the expression fluctuating between a gentle severity and the approach of a smile. Others who independently declared their impressions afterwards all confirmed that this had also been their experience.
"We went to the British Museum to see the Lohan. We stood in front of him for a long time. I looked at the statue and tried to sense him; his posture, his facial expression, his torso, arms, and so on. I felt he is alive and grand. He showed me how I can be as a human being. Solid as an old tree, wind cannot blow him, rain cannot make him miserable, and clouds come and go. He is there - solid. No one can move him. I am small in front of him. His world is huge. His space is limitless. My world is tiny. I wish I could be like him. This is real art."