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Stable as a Mountain

Gurus in Himalayan Art

March 13–July 13, 2009

Portraiture is one of the most powerful and significant expressions of figurative art, and in the Himalayas the subjects of religious portraits are exclusively religious teachers, or gurus. By preserving the physical appearance of a guru, an icon is produced that can charismatically substitute for the teacher in his physical absence. As such these portraits often embody the teachings of the guru and the traits of the enlightened mind. One such trait, remaining as “stable as a mountain,” is often evident in this artwork as the gurus sit in meditation or are shown in the act of teaching. Stable as a Mountain: Gurus in Himalayan Art surveys Himalayan portraiture’s cultural identity, social and religious uses of this form of art, and how artists portray the self.