August 8: Walk up to the second floor of the Madison Avenue gallery of Dominique Lévy and you will find a sight that needs explanation. You will be confused. You will see a floor crowded with white sculpted figures. You will notice that some of the figures are of a sitting or standing Buddha. He is smiling. He seems happy to see you. Other figures, if you look closely, look like snowmen. Yet others are of animals. They are all cut of white marble, which we learned from an attractive gallerist who came to our rescue that the marble is from Vietnam.
One Sun One Moon Banner1 by Peter Regli
While no expert on Buddha or Buddhist art, I can say that none of the Buddhas I have run across in my travels (that includes Vietnam, India and China) were all that happy to see me. At best, they had a trance-like smile as they were no doubt contemplating Nirvana. At other times he was sound asleep, or looking blankly ahead. Here we have a collection of jolly, smiling and active Buddha’s including some who are holding their hands above their heads. Now this is the kind of fellow one would be glad to know, sit down with and have a great chat. He exudes friendship. He seems undisturbed by his fat belly that my doctor would deem a health hazard and for which he would immediately prescribe a ghastly diet of tasteless gelatin with boiled sprouts and miles of walking.
With the gallerist’s help we saw that the figures were in groups, often one Buddha with one, two or three snowmen or animals. The figures are sold only in groups. They are supposedly in conversation. What they are talking about is hard to grasp. The snowmen can say that they are made by clever American or maybe Swiss children of snow and the Buddha can ask “What is snow” since most Buddha’s are found in warm climes. The gallery blurb suggests they are talking about East and West. They are all made of white marble, a strong unifying statement..
Peter Regli, who is Swiss, also takes photographs, many of which record “Interventions” in urban or desert landscapes. They are on another floor of the gallery and in a handsome book. Something is inserted that is off-putting; a foreign object that doesn’t belong. It does not shout. You have to see it first and then realize it is out of place. Yet, there it is. He has fun doing this. It is just slightly Zen. It isn’t angry, nor is it saying much. Just something slightly off. The pictures are very good.
The pictures and sculptures can be seen at Dominique Lévy until August 15.