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Life, Death and Magic at the National Gallery

By johnboy - 13 August 2010 0

[First filed: Aug 12, 2010 @ 14:25]

Life Death and Magic

Tomorrow the National Gallery has a very different exhibition opening.

RiotACT attended the media launch for Life, Death and Magic – 2,000 years of SouthEast Asian Ancestral Art this morning.

In the words of Gallery Director Ron Radford “It’s a little bit creepy”.

It’s also striking, thought provoking, and inspiring. This from the website:

For thousands of years across mainland and island Southeast Asia the deification of significant ancestors and the veneration of spirits of nature have formed the basis of traditional beliefs. It has also been the impetus for the creation of splendid and extraordinary works of art in fibre, stone, metal, wood and clay—made to protect and give pleasure to the living, to honour the ancestors and to secure safe passage for the human soul between this world and the afterlife.

Covering 2,000 years and spanning thousands of kilometres it’s worth taking notes for further research. (Who were the Dong Son of Vietnam with their bronze work?, What were the Nias people of Indonesia doing with all that magnificent gold work? The Dian of China with their 3rd century BC decorated bronze daggers? The Ifugao of the Phillipines as recently as the 19th century)

The exhibit is a whirlwind journey exploring a belief system that predates what we think of now as religion.

Aside from the artistic and spiritual concerns (which as one would expect in an art gallery are the focus of the exhibition) there are some amazing out and out treasures on display.

Special mention needs to be made of the curation. The lighting to set off the shadows cast by some of the objects certainly adds to the creepiness, but also highlights the amazing shapes.

Well worth checking out.

UPDATE: We’ve got three double passes to this exhibition available to Premium Members. Free to the first three to email tim@the-riotact.com

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