Painting Enlightenment: Experiencing Wisdom and Compassion through Art and Science at LSU Museum of Art

Beginning September 9, 2016, the LSU Museum of Art presents the exhibition Painting Enlightenment, featuring works by Japanese scientist and artist Iwasaki Tsuneo (1917–2002). These paintings create a contemplative journey—a meditation on the interconnectedness of the universe. Iwasaki collapses distinctions between image, text, and thought with imagery representative of both scientific phenomena and Buddhist principles. The imagery is literally formed with characters from the sacred Heart Sutra text.

Iwasaki’s work expands the practice of copying sacred texts, a form of devotion with a long history in Japan. In his creative sutra copying, Iwasaki uses traditional Chinese characters to copy the text. Instead of separating the verses into vertical blocks, he reconfigures verses into images of DNA, lightning bolts, bubbles, atoms, and ants.

Upon retiring from a career as a research biologist, Iwasaki created this artistic practice to express the relationship between science and Buddhism. Dr. Paula Arai, associate professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at LSU, is the guest curator for the exhibition. The paintings, comments Arai, “will create a contemplative experience for viewers to reflect on their relationships with themselves, others, nature, and the cosmos.”

Painting Enlightenment will be on exhibition at the LSU Museum of Art through November 27, 2016. 

Guest Curated by Paula Arai
Curated for LSUMOA by Courtney Taylor

View the exhibition's supplemental gallery guide below.


Generous support for this exhibition provided by the Imo Brown Memorial Fund and LA Machinery, with additional support from the LSU Philosophy and Religious Studies department, the LSU Asian Studies program and Jim Stone Co.


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