Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

St. Louis University, St. Louis MO



Lewis deSoto: Paranirvana


Born in I954, Lewis deSoto maintains studios in both San Francisco and New York. He has had more than 35 solo exhibitions and has been in more than 40 group exhibitions. He has also received commissions for 10 major public projects. His installations have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States as well as museums in England, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. Known primarily as a sculptor, deSoto blends the conventional with the unconventional, incorporating into his sculptural installations such varied elements as video, theatrical lighting, sound, photography, slide projection, oscilloscopes, maps, and ice. He infuses his work with a strong interest in archeology, anthropology, cosmology, and world religions. (left: Paranirvana, 1999, installation at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, painted nylon, air fan, 25 x 7 x 6 feet, Courtesy of Bill Maynes Gallery, New York)

MOCRA is pleased to present deSoto's latest sculpture, "Paranirvana," a 25-foot long image of the Reclining Buddha made of a nylon skin and inflated with air, based on a well-known Sri Lankan sculpture. "Paranirvana" was created especially for the I999-2000 Bay Area Now 2 exhibition, the second in a planned series of biennial exhibitions at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts highlighting the significant artists of the Bay Area.

MOCRA is only the second venue to exhibit "Paranirvana." Subsequently it is scheduled to be shown in New York and Berlin.

Tradition has it that Shakyamuni, the Buddha, remained on the earth after attaining enlightenment in order to teach others his insights into achieving salvation. At the age of 80 he came to Kushinagara where he preached his final sermon and died. This episode is the Paranirvana, the physical death of the historical Buddha and his entering into Nirvana, the state of oneness and perfection.

Occasioned by the recent loss of his father, deSoto has superimposed his own face on the Buddha as he asks the universal question, how will we all face the moment of our death?

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rev. 1/29/11

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