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Good luck to all who enter

October 05, 2003|Suzanne Muchnic

From a Tibetan blockbuster at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana to a landmark show of Himalayan meditational objects at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Southern California museums suddenly are brimming with Buddhist art. But that isn't all.

The Sabina Lee Gallery has launched its new location at 5365 Wilshire Blvd. with "Buddha With Lucky Objects" -- an exhibition of 2,800 paintings of Buddha installed in a circular, motion-sensitive structure that shakes when visitors step inside it.

The show is the work of artist Ik-Joong Kang, who was born in South Korea and lives in New York. Known for creating tiny canvases by the thousands and assembling them in wraparound environments, Kang usually pursues more mundane subjects.

In "Buddha With Lucky Objects," he has delved into religion and shamanism, with a kinetic twist. And he has taken his cues from Korean shamans, who use repetitive likenesses of Buddha to emphasize his greatness, and shake noisemakers to invoke magical powers.

In this recent work, images of Buddha painted on 3-inch-by-3-inch blocks of wood cover a cylindrical enclosure about 8 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter. As for the noise, 365 ordinary objects -- including toys, decorative items and utilitarian gadgets -- are suspended at random on the walls. When visitors step into the enclosure, a motion sensor causes the objects to rattle against the walls

"The shamanism in all of us can emerge inside this temple of objects," Lee says. For believers, that means good luck to all who enter the artwork.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

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