(08/2016) Decoding Curatorship - Lecture Series on Buddhist Perspectives and Contemporary Curating

Koan Glass Teahouse, 2015
by Tokujin Yoshioka
at Shogunzuka Seiryuden
under Shorenin Temple, Kyoto
Takashi Murakami: The 500 Arhats exhibition
at the Mori Art Museum, 2015
Window of Enlightenment
Genkoan Temple, Kyoto
The Glass Teahouse Mondrian
by Hiroshi Sugimoto
at Venice Architecture Biennale 2014
Sanmon GCC - yupotanjyu + nupotanje
by Kisho Mwkaiyama
at The Elegance of Silence - Contemporary Art From East Asia exhibition
Mori Art Museum, 2005

Curatorship in art does not merely refer to a profession for managing precisely a physical art space or putting together a particular art exhibition or an art event, but also carries with it a spectrum of underlying notions including a wealth of knowledge that is accumulated through time and experience, an awareness towards surrounding environment, an ability to draw on a versatile approach to perceive diverse cultural phenomena and strategies to convey corresponding interpretation.

This Lecture Series is designed to open up a window to the profession of curatorship, providing participants with a sophisticated view and an in-depth discussion towards the subjects centering upon and revolving around curatorship.  The Series suggests ways, from a holistic angle, to comprehend the profession of curatorship and to apprehend the world from a curatorial perspective.


Hong Kong Art School (a division of Hong Kong Arts Centre) (HKAS) is again very delighted to present the series consisting of 5 exclusive lectures in partnership with Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT) / Making Art Different (MAD) School of Contemporary Art  (http://www.a-i-t.net). This is the second Lecture Series on Curatorship jointly presented by HKAS and AIT/MAD.

AIT is a non-profit arts organization established in Tokyo in 2001 for a general public to come together and learn about art.  

For details, please also visit AIT's website: http://www.a-i-t.net and MAD's website: http://mad.a-i-t.net/

Details of the Curatorship Lecture Series are also available on MAD website:


Buddhist perspectives contribute to the shaping and the development of Asian Aesthetics.  It can perhaps be compared with the way Christian perspectives contribute to the consolidation of Western or European Aesthetics over the long course of history. 

Revisiting Buddhist perspectives holes a key to further understanding Asian Aesthetics, which in turn facilitates the perceiving of contemporary curating, particularly in terms of curating in Asian regions or with Asian context.

The series of 5 intensive lectures will be conducted in August 2016 with the following schedule:

Lecture 1 - Buddhism - Essential Concepts, Practices and Art Forms

An overview by Catherine Maudsley

 27 August 2016 (Saturday)  3pm - 5pm

Lecture 2 - Filling the Void (I) - Zen and Architecture

Introduction and Case Study by Fumio Nanjo

 28 August 2016 (Sunday) 11am - 1pm

Lecture 3 - Filling the Void (II) - Zen and Art

Introduction and Case Study by Roger McDonald

 28 August 2016 (Sunday)  3pm - 5pm

Lecture 4 - Visualizing the Universe - Esoteric Vision

Introduction and Case Study by Fumio Nanjo and Roger McDonald

 29 August 2016 (Monday)  7pm - 9pm

Lecture 5 - Recent Curating and the Buddhist Imaginary

Case Study and Experience Sharing by Fumio Nanjo and Roger McDonald

 30 August 2016 (Tuesday)    7pm - 9pm















All lectures will be conducted at the Main Campus of Hong Kong Art School located on 10/F of the Hong Kong Arts Centre (Address: 2 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong).

The lectures in the first series will be hosted by Mr. Fumio Nanjo, Dr. Roger McDonald and Ms. Catherine Maudsley.

Fumio Nanjo

Art Education International Director, Hong Kong Art School

Mr. Nanjo is one of the most important Art Curators in the contemporary art scene of Japan.  He has been the Director of the Mori Art Museum, Japan since 2006.  He has also been an art critic and  a lecturer at the Keio University for a substantial period of time.  Throughout the years, Mr. Nanjo has been initiating and conducting a large number of art projects on international basis, and has been travelling worldwide for his art advisory services and curatorial works which include his involvement in the Singapore Biennale, the Sao Paulo Biennale, the Venice Biennale and more.  

Roger McDonald

Deputy Director and Founding Member of Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT)

AIT is a non-profit arts organization established in Tokyo in 2001 for a general public to come together and learn about art. Dr. McDonald is one of its founding members, and the Program Director of  Making Art Different (MAD) the educational component of AIT. Based in Nagano, Dr. McDonald has worked as an independent curator since 1989 (working with Fumio Nanjo on serveral exhibitions), and is the Director of the Fenberger House that opened in 2013 in the mountain of Saku city, Nagano.

Dr. McDonald was educated in the United Kingdom, studying International Politics (BA, Wales), Mysticism and Religious Experience (MA, Kent) and received a PhD in History and Theory of Art from the University of Kent.


Catherine Maudsley

School Council Member, Hong Kong Art School

Ms. Maudsley is well-known as a curator, art historian and art advisor. A pioneering fine arts professional who has lived in Hong Kong for more than three decades, she is privileged to work with distinguished private collectors worldwide.  She is also well versed in Buddhist Studies, having trained as in the History of Religion at the University of Toronto where she received many distinctions including a Gold Medal in Religious Studies. She was also a Connaught Research Scholar, a Canada-China Scholar and a Commonwealth Scholar.   She has travelled extensively throughout Asia to important Buddhist sites and throughout the world to see museum collections of Buddhist art.

Ms. Maudsley has lectured and has acted as a moderator for a wide range of institutions, including the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Fine Arts, Christie’s Education, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and Asia Society.  She has also served on the Executive Committees of the University of Hong Kong Museum Society and the Oriental Ceramic Society, Hong Kong.












Through the eyes of three distinguishing Curators, this Lecture Series revisits the role of Buddhist perspectives over the consolidation of Asian Aesthetics, exploring relevant applications in modern times, and investigating how related perspectives come together with contemporary curatorial notions.

Lecture 1        Buddhism – Essential Concepts, Practices and Art Forms                  

An overview by Catherine Maudsley

Siddhartha Gautama became known as the Buddha, the “Enlightened One”.  Since his lifetime, millions of people around the world have been inspired by his spiritual journey.  Remarkably adaptable, Buddhist art reflects the diverse cultural contexts of many Asian nations.

Introducing and Illustrating

  • The Life of Siddhartha Gautama, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path
  • Buddhism throughout Asia:  Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana
  • Buddhist Art Forms: from Sculptures to Sand Mandalas

3pm - 5pm  |  27 August 2016 (Sat)

Lecture 2       Filling the Void (I) - Zen and Architecture                 

Introduction and Case Study by Fumio Nanjo  

In terms of the development of Asian Aesthetics, Zen Buddhism (禪) takes on a leading role among different Buddhist sects, and its impact on contemporary art and design is profound. 

Zen is widely known to be closely associated with the birth of the aesthetic concept of wabi-sabi, as well as the development of various traditional art disciplines, such as Chado/ tea ceremony, Ikebana/ flower arrangement and Noh theatre.   

  • Exploring how Zen Buddhist perspectives inspire the form of contemporary architecture, transform the surrounding environment, and generate new interpretation of art.   
  • Reinterpreting traditional culture with contemporary Zen-inspired architectural endeavors, from Hiroshi Sugimoto's glass-cube tea house built above the surface of a pool of water in the Venice Architecture Biennale, to Tokujin Yoshida's transparent teahouse located on the high-rise observation deck of a traditional Buddhist temple overseeing the cityscape of Kyoto.

11am - 1pm  |  28 August 2016 (Sun)

Lecture 3        Filling the Void (II) - Zen and Art                  

Introduction and Case Study by Roger McDonald 

  • Looking into the history of the transmissions and representation of Zen Buddhism in modern and contemporary art, from early pioneers like Mark Tobey and John Cage, to American minimal artists, Japanese Mono-ha and recent interpretations.
  • Exploring also the way that ideas from Zen have been translated into English, such as ‘emptiness’, and notions that are adopted to create exhibitions and concepts in museums. 

3pm - 5pm  |  28 August 2016 (Sun)

Lecture 4        Visualizing the Universe - Esoteric Vision                   

Introduction and Case Study by Fumio Nanjo and Roger McDonald 

With an origin from India, philosophy and practices of Esoteric Buddhism (密教) were passed onto China in around the Tang Dynasty, they then took root in Japan around 1,200 years ago during the Heian period; while nowadays, esoteric perspectives are mainly preserved in Tibet and Japan. 

  • Highly valuing cosmic elements and believing that there is an innate Buddha nature in everybody, esoteric philosophy offers a unique way of visualizing the universe, and it gives rise to various art forms, including the mandalas.  
  • From painting to sculpture, exploring the aesthetic influence of esoteric perspectives, and the spiritual and psychological powers that are sometimes said to be accompanying them, particular reference may be made to the Shingon (真言) sect of Buddhism in Japan.
  • Looking into contemporary curating experience and contemporary responses towards traditional thoughts and approaches in this connection, such as paintings by Kisho Mwkaiyama.  

7pm - 9pm  |  29 August 2016 (Mon)

Lecture 5        Recent Curating and the Buddhist Imaginary                   

Case Study and Experience Sharing by Fumio Nanjo and Roger McDonald

  • Discussing recent curating with Buddhist themes and sensibilities, covering the curatorial experience exclusively at the Mori Art Museum, including the curation of the exhibition, Takashi Murakami: The 500 Arhats
  • Addressing also the contemporary reinterpretation of traditional subject matters, and contemporary curating in Buddhist precincts.
  • Temporary showcase and permanent incorporation of contemporary artworks at traditional Buddhist temples have been increasing in numbers, referring for instance to recent painting projects by Hiroshi Senju.  Looking into the inspiring and intriguing outcomes, which often open up new perspectives in the field. 

7pm - 9pm  |  30 August 2016 (Tue)

This series is open to all who are interested in the topic of curatorship.

This series is not only for the professional but is also for those who are interested in the inside story of art business and are willing to gain more knowledge about the making of exhibition. 

Art collectors, art entrepreneurs, art curators, city planners, policy makers, artists, gallery owners, art practitioners, art educators, art students and general public are all welcome.  



Interested parties can enroll into individual lectures without completing the whole series.

Priority and special offer will be made available for participants who enroll into the whole series (of all 5 lectures) at a time. 

Fee for Each Lecture:             HKD1,250

Fee for Whole Series (5 Lectures):         HKD5,500

Course Code for Individual Lectures: 

16-AM002001-1AP    Lecture 1: Buddhism - Essential Concepts, Practices and Art Forms

16-AM002002-1AP    Lecture 2: Filling the Void (I) - Zen and Architecture

16-AM002003-1AP    Lecture 3: Filling the Void (II) - Zen and Art

16-AM002004-1AP    Lecture 4: Visualizing the Universe - Esoteric Vision

16-AM002005-1AP    Lecture 5: Recent Curating and the Buddhist Imaginary

Course Code for the Whole Series: 16-AM002-1AP

Please complete the Enrolment Form and return it to the School.  For details, please refer to the Enrolment Form.


  • A Certificate of Attendance will be issued by Hong Kong Art School to each participant after the completion of each lecture, for acknowledging his / her participation.  
  • For participant who has completed the whole series of 5 lectures, instead of a Certificate of Attendance, a Special Certificate of Completion will be issued by the School to indicate exclusive appreciation for his / her participation.


Study Load

No assignment and assessment is involved.

Medium of Instruction

Unless otherwise stated, the lectures will be delivered in English.