Light Exists because of Love - Part II of IV

A blog series on the impact of Loretta H. Yang's Guanyin artwork

Updated: October 2, 2015

Part II: The Life Wish of Loretta H. Yang


This very piece was, by no coincidence... a promise to herself and to the world.

For the better part of two decades, Loretta H. Yang enthralled viewers of Asian cinema with her prowess on-camera. Then, at the peak of her booming acting career, she stopped. As one of Asia’s leading film actresses and winner of two Golden Horse best actress awards, it’s difficult to imagine why this woman would give up her career.

Without much hope of a better career, she simply put the brakes on her own wild success. She left the world—for many years after—wondering… why?

The answer is hidden in her artwork.


LIULI's first artwork, "The Second Vow of the Medicine Buddha."

In fact, why Loretta H. Yang forsook acting to pursue art can be seen in her and LIULI’s very first art piece—The Second Vow of the Medicine Buddha.

Bhaisajyaguru in Sanskrit is short for Bhaisajyaguruvalduryaprabharaja, an name that is without a doubt exhausting to pronounce for those unfamiliar with Sanskrit. It translates as “Medicine Master and King of Lapiz Lazuli Light.” From this, Yang chanced upon the Medicine Buddha Sutra, a healing scripture containing twelve vows. The second of these vows speaks of the promise “to awaken the minds of sentient beings through his light of lapis lazuli.”


That ephemeral quality... so remarkably bittersweet it transgresses itself in showing both healing and pain.

Failure after failure, Yang grew tired and frustrated day and night in attempting to sculpt her first liuli art piece. Eventually, upon attempting the “Second Vow” in the face of the King of Lapis Lazuli himself, she reportedly calmed—and within a few short months—completed the project.

To her, this very first piece was, by no coincidence, a promise to herself and to the world. Through the light of liuli, awaken minds of sentient beings. This is what she sacrificed everything for—an old vow.

Fast forward fourteen years to what has become Yang and LIULI’s life journey, that vow has manifested itself in award-winning pieces “Healing Hand” (1996 – Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong) “Bhaisajyayru Vaidurya Pabhasa, Seated Buddha” (1996 – Yakushiji Temple, Nara, Japan) and dozens other masterpieces. Yet alongside these colossal achievements were devastating challenges.


From Loretta H. Yang's "Formless, but not Without Form" collection.

Perhaps those challenges do not counter Yang’s achievements; rather, they strengthen her will in actualizing them. No doubt the latest collection touring Paris, “Formless, but not without Form,” shows that ephemeral quality about her oeuvre—a quality so remarkably bittersweet it transgresses itself in showing both healing and pain.

And because of those life challenges, it was necessary for Yang’s art to evolve in order to stay true to her promise.

Watching the evolution of Yang’s work is like watching the evolution of human suffering. It is at once both devastating and uplifting, both wistful and grateful. And all these sentiments culminates in her life’s greatest ambition—“The Thousand Hand, Thousand Eye.” And that is where our story will continue.

 

(To be continued…)

 

 

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