Tea & Zen

Asian Temporary Exhibition Space, Level 1

Tea and Zen presents the history of tea in China and Japan, exhibiting works that demonstrate its unique cultural aesthetic.

Art Exhibition previously on at NGV International in Australia.
From Thursday 15 April 2010 to Sunday 29 August 2010

JAPANESE Whisk (Chasen). (20th century) Japan bamboo, cotton thread. 11.6 x 4.5 x 4.9 cm. image

Published by National Gallery of Victoria - International on Monday 03 May 2010.
Contact the publisher.

Starting from the Tang Dynasty (618–907) in China, when the first book on tea – the ‘Tea Classic’ – was written, we explore tea’s philosophical and spiritual relationship with Zen Buddhism, which lead to its subsequent introduction to Japan during the sixth to ninth centuries.

However it was during the Muromachi period (1333–1568) that the unique Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi – ‘beauty in imperfection’ – was gradually developed, culminating in the practices and teachings of the great tea master, Sen no Rikyu during the late sixteenth century.

This exhibition shows ceramic, lacquer and bamboo tea utensils alongside Zen paintings and calligraphy, creating a contemplative setting evoking the spirit of the ‘Way of Tea’. The exhibition also draws attention to tea’s continuing practice in present day Japanese culture – the tea ceremony (cha-no-yu) and its influence on contemporary Japanese artists.