As its spring exhibition, M WOODS presents All Means Are Sacred, bringing together works by artists across fifteen centuries in a focused examination of reverence, energy, and the spirit. Staging an encounter between contemporary and pre-contemporary works, the exhibition will confront the means by which art seeks to transcend, often in unconventional ways, the materials and conditions of its making.
Spanning the entire museum, the exhibition will feature the work of artists Ouyang Chun, Jean-Baptiste- Camille Corot, Raoul De Keyser, Olafur Eliasson, Giorgio Griffa, Charles Harlan, Giorgio Morandi, Guido van der Werve, Xu Sheng, and Yang Changxu alongside anonymous Indian Tantric drawings, a Northern Renaissance painting by a follower of Hieronymous Bosch, and ancient Chinese stone statuary. Time and media are collapsed within this selection, the works– religious and secular alike– unified by an earnest ambition to overthrow ordinary modes of experiencing art to communicate a spiritual truth.
Guido van der Werve’s film The Day I Didn’t Turn with the World (2007) documents the artist’s journey to the axis of the earth at the North Pole. For 24 hours, the artist stands in a single spot, turning incrementally against the natural movement of the planet and thus opting out of a universal human act, in a physically demanding quest to go beyond everyday limitations. In Olafur Eliasson’s Attraction (2015), a meteorite found in South America is suspended within a magnetic field. Tranquil and mysterious, the meteorite defies gravity, oscillating yet appearing still; in this way, Eliasson’s work draws attention to other invisible forces which may be at play around us.
Among other works, the exhibition features a selection of paintings on salvaged paper from Rajasthan, India, created by anonymous practitioners of Tantrism known as tantrikas. Tantrikas draw in a meditative state and their drawings continually reinterpret a distinct lexicon of lines, shapes, and colors; when completed, the drawings are used as tools in the practice of meditation. These works come from the collection of Franck André Jamme, a French poet and specialist in Tantric, Art Brut, and Indian tribal art who has been the mediator between certain groups of Indian tantra painters and outside communities since the 1980s. Examples of these works were first presented in the renowned exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou in 1989.
Drawn predominately from the M WOODS collection, the exhibition takes its title from Wassily Kandinsky’s text Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912) in which the artist asserts the legitimacy of all means of art- making that serve a work’s inner necessity. Honoring this thought, the exhibition underscores themes of transcendence and enlightenment that are key concerns of the M WOODS permanent collection.