www.nytimes.com/2014/01/03arts ... n-at-sackler-gallery.html
WASHINGTON D.C., January 2, 2014 (New York Times): Pain is a problem. So is pleasure, which causes pain -- discontent, confusion, depression -- when it ends, as it always does. Escape from this cycle has been a goal of spiritual disciplines universally. And one of those disciplines is the subject of an immensely pleasurable exhibition called "Yoga: The Art of Transformation" at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery here.
Yoga, in this instance, is not a matter of meditation mats and Whole Foods Wellness Clubs. It's a shattering personal revolution. It's about leaving home, going naked, fasting for years, freezing in winter, roasting in summer, being shunned by the living and lying down with the dead. It's about perfecting your body in order to lose it, loosening your mind till the cosmos floods in. Whether, in the end, you glow like a God or blow away like an ash, pain and pleasure will be a thousand yesterdays in the past.
The origins of the ideas and actions we call yoga are obscure, and the visual history all but unstudied. The Sackler show is the first major art survey in the United States to tackle the subject. There is evidence that religious ascetics were wandering North India as early as the fifth century B.C., practicing meditation and breath control in pursuit of mind-over-matter transcendence. By the second century A.D. their methods and were codified in the Yoga Sutras, a philosophical treatise attributed to a sage named Patanjali.
"Yoga: The Art of Transformation" runs through Jan. 26 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington; asia.si.edu. It travels to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Feb. 21 to May 25, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, June 22 to Sept. 7.
More on the exhibit at 'source.'