by Shane Lewis

12 July '18

The persistent relevance of the Buddhist message

Oil paintig depicting 'the awakened one'

The incipient and delicately outlined orbs in this calmative blue-green background suggest a harmonious cosmos that seems to emanate outwards from the Buddha just as his state of contemplation has a pervasive influence in the world in the continuance of the global popularity of the Buddhist way of life.

Perhaps, conversely, the harmony of the universe and all its parts can be said to be the spiritual state to which the Buddha has attained, as the background colors in the oil painting permeate his form in the picture, the blues intersecting and soaking into him here.


The mood of meditation is enhanced by Virtosu 's use of browns and black around the face and its intently clamped eye.

This could be a sign of the surrender of the egoist self to a cosmological unity of which a person is a minuscule element.

Also, this could be a reference to and a measure of the particular stage of the Buddha's meditation – one of intense exploration through a renunciation of the self as the dark colors reveal a numinous rather than a fleshly or worldly concern and signal the lability and transience of all material things.


The legs of the Buddha figure are painted with great delicacy and rendered in the form of the lotus position in meditation. This flower's great symbolic significance in Eastern religion can signify such things in Buddhism as good fortune and spiritual enlightenment.

The contemporary artist 's choice of color for the legs is telling as the blue, red and gold in the Buddhist symbolism of the lotus flower refer to

wisdom through reason, compassion, and love, and the attainment of complete enlightenment respectively.


Modern milieu

The fact that the figure wears a cap ties it also to a more modern milieu while lending it a social specificity – perhaps an allusion to the continued growth of interest in the Buddhist religion and way of life in the East and in the West.

The epithet 'Buddha', means 'the awakened one' and so we see our figure here, his eyes tightly shut, as asleep to the materiality and pragmatism of the present world while he is, through a re-orientation of the mind, profoundly awake to the true reality of the spiritual universe.


With the artist's juxtaposition of the old and the modern, we are presented with a rare island of stillness, an ancient antidote to the increasing distraction of contemporary life, and the persistent relevance of the Buddhist message.

About author Shane Lewis was born 1962 in Dublin, UK. He studied at National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Educated in Ireland and the US. Lives in New York. Has also lived in UK. Modern Art. Contemporary Art. Build up collections, Institutions, Preservation, Research. E:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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