The void is the philosophical concept of nothingness manifested. The manifestation of nothingness is closely associated with the contemplation of emptiness and with human attempts to identify and personify it. This is often done in art. As such, the concept of The Void, and ideas similar to it, have a significant and historically evolving presence in artistic and academic expression. Black is the darkest colour resulting from the absence or complete absorption of light and consequently has associations with emptiness and The Void. In art and religion, the idea of the Void has been explored from Taoism and Buddhism to Modernism, for which “Nothingness“ leads to abstraction as a refusal of the representational image. In the early 1940's Western artists were translating insights of the East into ways of expression. In the 1950's Ad Reinhardt described his black squares as a search for an image like that of the Buddha: breathless, timeless, styleless, lifeless, deathless, endless. Paintings that contained everything and nothing.

The figure loaned from the John Hutchinson collection is of a Jizu Bosatsu who is an enlightened being through Buddhism. What remains of this figure worn by exterior conditions, as it would have been placed outside, still retains a visual representation of quiet and peaceful contemplation. It is almost if this Jizu Bosatsu has been meditating into nothingness. One of the key disciplines of Buddhism is zazen ( sitting meditation ) where no thought is aroused in the mind ( za ) and seeing into one's Self–nature ( zen ). The piece probably dates from the C19th ( Edo period ), and is particularly interesting as the aged wood has taken on wabi sabi attributes. Wabi sabi is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics centred on imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. This is derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, ( sanboin ) impermanence, ( mujo ) suffering and ( ku ) emptiness.

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