for Pablo, Kevin, and all our friends north
Lightening tears temple asunder.
Divine wrath, or natural disaster?
There was a seaside temple in India that was struck by lightening. That minor storm was the vanguard to a full hurricane that eventually ravaged the entire countryside. The old temple was split from its roof line to its foundations. One entire end of the building was parted from its body like a severed head. Was this karma? Was this the punishment of the gods? Or was it simply an old building or an unfortunate accident?
What you say shows your attitude about nature, reality, and whether you believe gods intervene in human affairs. If you insist that there was some reason that lightening cleaved the temple, then you live in a world where uncertainly is the byproduct of some supreme being’s emotional whims. If, however, you accept this incident solely as a natural disaster, then you also accept random occurrences in life. Such a viewpoint does not preclude any notion of the divine, of course. It merely states that not everything in nature is administered by some heavenly bureaucracy.
It is a simple fact that lightening split the temple. The meaning of this incident — if there is any — is determined by each person. One person regards it as a disaster, another as a good thing, while a third views it dispassionately. There is nothing inherent in the incident that dictates its meaning. It is enough that we all recognize that it happened.
Ai Zhongxin 1984
Oil on canvas 30" x 43"
Ai Zhongxin graduated in 1940 from the Department of Art of the former Central University and is now a professor at the Central Academy of Art.
From the earliest times the steppe nomads lived in tented encampments which, although never permanent, sometimes grew to great size. The settlement in the background of "Grassland" is a modern version of those encampments. Visible at the far left are two circular Mongolian tents erected outside the main grouping. Flags, signifying the tribal affiliations of the group, would normally be flying from the masts, but those shown here are lowered in anticipation of the coming storm.
Inventory #: CC_0011
Source: The Hefner Collection
© The Hefner Collection
The China Collection
liscenced one time use only