The highly detailed, brightly colored scroll paintings of Buddhist deities called thangkas, "thing that one unrolls" in Tibetan, have long intrigued and inspired artist Bill Kane. These devotional works depict the life (or lives) of the Buddhas, and are intended as meditation aides for practitioners worldwide. It is said that these devotional images radiate blessings (moments of peace of mind) to all who experience them. This transformative power motivated Kane to reinterpret these works in a more universal way for contemporary audiences.
Evocative of Rothko’s color field series, visually and conceptually, Kane’s works are painterly in nature with subtle gradations in tone-emulating energy bands. However, these works are actually more akin to photography, as they are derived from traditional images that are scanned, reduced to their basic component colors, blurred, color enhanced and stretched to seven feet tall. It is the intention that these resulting abstract works, conceived of as representations of the non-physical light bodies of the Buddhas, maintain the lineage of their spiritual seed images, and continue to rain blessings on all, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike, who unsuspectedly observe them. Installed around the spartan white gallery as single panels, or in pairs, Kane has created his own chapel, with each work glittering with light and color, a contemporary, abstract version of the centuries-old stained glass masterworks within Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, or more recently Henri Matisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence. Kane's colorful yet quiet totemic images invite the viewer to experience a contemplative space that transcends the chaotic temporal nature of our world and illuminates the spiritual within. Modernism is pleased to present our fourth one-person exhibition of works by Bill KANE. His photographs and mixed media works have been extensively exhibited in the US, Europe and Asia since 1980, and his work is represented in the collections of museums internationally, notably the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museums in San Francisco; the Carnegie Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, PA; the Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; Stanford University, Stanford, CA and the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA.