The aesthetic category of sublime refers to a greatness beyond calculation, measurement, or imitation. This type of art produces intense emotion along with the sensation of being a part of something much greater or vaster than oneself. Overwhelming our faculty of reason, the sublime has the power to compel us through astonishment and awe. So perfectly does this term describe the Yun sculptures of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
Sculpture can take many forms, but it is characterized by having mass and occupying space, and we relate to these works of art both visually and tactilely. They have a physical presence that often seems to be another being or possessed of life, such that throughout time and place they have been used to embody gods and spirits. The Yun sculptures are not figurative, but they are commanding three-dimensional figures modeled with a highly complex structure. The worked material conveys a sense of emergence, flux, and movement captured, so that the sculptures seem as if they have been culled or extracted from a universal energy.
Through attributes reminiscent of shaping processes of our world, these artworks suggest the otherworldly. At first singular and imposing, the Yun sculptures up close reveal an intricacy that appears to extend to depths that exceed the sculpture’s size — a magnitude greater than the volume. While the objects in actuality have limited dimensions, they defy any quantifiable understanding, and their assertive and highly wrought materiality is a means to go beyond to the metaphysical. To be with them is to encounter an enigma that asks us to contemplate our own spiritual nature.
The substance of the Yun sculptures is imbued with resplendent colors that at once enhance their elaborateness and make their effect more mutable. Color is a transient quality and registers differently in different conditions and with different viewers. The configuration of these lustrous hues makes one think of those found in nature, such as in precious stones, and yet the intensity seems to bloom before our eyes rather than lock in place. It’s as if there is a fire within that animates.
The translucence of material allows the Yun sculptures to interact with light in a way that mesmerizes. Pigments reflect the ambient light, and at places where the material is more attenuated there is a glowing quality. Rather than surface alone, these sculptures have a beckoning interiority. The sculpture in its entirety has an interplay of form and void characterized by luminescence, which makes them imposing while destabilizing any fixed perception. With sculpture, we expect solidity, but H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III offers us an experience of impermanence, which is one of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism. The world of appearances may seem real, but it is an illusion. The world may seem solid, but everything changes.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has created an artistic paradox. Rather than decipher the Yun sculptures, we can embrace the seeming contradiction of a monument of impermanence, turning awe into mindfulness.