Room of Silence
With its circa 350 works from the 12th to the 20th centuries, the collection of Japanese art compiled by Viktor and Marianne is one of the most comprehensive and renowned of its kind in Europe. Today, the Langen Collection possesses numerous images and sculptures of rare iconography and excellent artistic quality.
The current exhibition in the Japanese Room shows a selection of Japanese scroll paintings and Buddhist sculptures from this private collection. The presented work focuses on images of the more minimalistic, restrained aesthetic of Zen Buddhist art and monochrome ink paintings. In the 13th century, Zen Buddhism established itself as the most influential teaching in Japan. A wide variety of arts flourished under its influence, especially architecture and monochrome ink painting. The images display an emphasis on spontaneity and a simplicity and restraint in their presentation. The landscape images contain lavish ink washes with some arbitrarily set ink strokes. The artists use black ink and a thin, pointed brush; sometimes, light colour nuances appear, but the pictures remain monochrome. The exclusively calligraphic works with texts and poems also show these brushstrokes. Painting and the painting process were fundamentally understood as a form of meditation; the depictions and poems are often thus images of mood, inner tranquillity and an expression of harmony.
This perfection and tranquillity emanate in the same way from the exhibited sculptures – various images of Buddhist deities.
The current exhibition again transforms the Japanese Room into the “Room of Silence”.
Photo © Sean Scully Migration, 2021, Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein