MOCRA exhibitions: Paranirvana

The reclining Buddha is a major metaphor in Buddhist theology: the Buddha's serenity and commitment are so great that even on his deathbed he is still giving lessons to his followers. San Francisco artist Lewis deSoto's 25-ft-long inflated nylon recreation of a famous Sri Lankan Buddha explores the mysteries surrounding the moment of death.

Lewis deSoto: Paranirvana
April 15  - June 11, 2000
     Free public opening reception with the artist
     Saturday, April 15, 6 - 8 p.m.

exhibition extended through November 5, 2000

General Exhibition Information
Hours: Tues - Sun, 11 am - 4 pm
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Group visit information

Lewis deSoto - Paranirvana, 1999

Paranirvana, 1999. Installation at MOCRA, 2000. Painted nylon, fan.
25 x 7 x 6 ft. Image courtesy of Bill Maynes Gallery, New York.

MOCRA is pleased to present Lewis deSoto’s Paranirvana, a 25-foot long image of the reclining Buddha made of a nylon skin and inflated with air, based on a well-known Sri Lankan sculpture. Paranirvana was created especially for the 1999-2000 Bay Area Now 2 exhibition, the second in a planned series of bienniel exhibitions at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts highlighting the significant artists of the Bay Area. MOCRA is only the second venue to exhibit Paranirvana. Subsequently it is scheduled to be shown in New York and Berlin.

Tradition has it that Shakyamuni, the Buddha, remained on the earth after attaining enlightenment in order to teach others his insights into achieving salvation. At the age of 80 he came to Kushinagara where he preached his final sermon and died. This episode is the Paranirvana, the physical death of the historical Buddha and his entering into Nirvana, the state of oneness and perfection. Occasioned by the recent loss of his father, deSoto has superimposed his own face on the Buddha as he asks the universal question, how will we all face the moment of our death?

About the artist
Born in 1954, Lewis deSoto maintains studios in both San Francisco and New York. He has had more than 35 solo exhibitions and has been in more than 40 group exhibitions. He has also received commissions for 10 major public projects. His installations have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States as well as museums in England, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. Known primarily as a sculptor, deSoto blends the conventional with the unconventional, incorporating into his sculptural installations such varied elements as video, theatrical lighting, sound, photography, slide projection, oscilloscopes, maps, and ice. He infuses his work with a strong interest in archeology, anthropology, cosmology, and world religions.
MOCRA thanks the Yerba Buena Cultural Center, San Francisco, and the Bill Maynes Gallery, New York, for their assistance in presenting this exhibition.

Additional links

Lewis deSoto website

Lewis deSoto videos on Vimeo

Lewis deSoto at Bill Maynes Gallery, New York

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

About the Parinirvana in Buddhist tradition I

About the Parinirvana in Buddhist tradition II

About Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka ... site of Gal Vihara stauary

More about Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

The reclining Buddha at Gal Vihara, Sri Lanka

The Buddha, a PBS documentary film

Lewis deSoto: Paranirvana in the media
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