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Tom Wudl, LA Louver Gallery, November 2009

Specimens from the Flowerbank World

These paintings and drawings were inspired by the Avatamsaka Sutra. The English translation of its title—Flower Ornament Sutra—discloses the obvious relation between text and image. It would however be inaccurate to view these works as illustrations of the book, since they do not coincide with any specific descriptions of imagery in the sutra. It might be more appropriate to say that the images reflect the very rich content of the book.

Inexhaustible Benefit, 2009, Oil on linen, 4 3/8″ x 4 3/4″

For instance, the proliferation of the tiny club motif is representative of the elaborate descriptions of phenomena so characteristic of the book’s literary style. “The finest jewels appeared spontaneously, raining inexhaustible quantities of gems and beautiful flowers all over the earth.” And in another sampling of the sutra’s visionary cosmology, we read “There were great enlightening beings numerous as the atoms in ten Buddha worlds.” Or “Each of his hair tips was able to contain all worlds without interference.”

One could say that the sutra in its 1,500 plus pages is an epic exhortation to meditation practice. Meditation is simply another word for concentration or attention. A common but not exclusive meditation practice involves repetition. The repetition of mantras. Counting the breath. Or simply the act of bringing awareness back to the breath should it forget itself in daydreaming. Although not specifically a meditation practice, the attention directed to the consistent repetition of the miniature details parallels the voluntary attention of meditation. It also ironically yet respectfully parallels the art of the insane that often exhibits urgent reflexive repetition and obsession with minutiae.

Tom Wudl, October 2009

Specimens from the Flowerbank World will be shown at LA Louver Gallery, Venice California
November 12 – December 31, 2009
Reception for the artist: Thursday, 12 November 2009, 6 – 8 p.m.

Please click image to enlarge.

Liberation, Oil on Linen, 2009, 7 1/8″ x  10 1/8″

Now, Oil on Linen, 2009, 4 1/4″ x 4 3/4″

Equanimity, Oil on Linen, 2009, 13″ x 9″

Boundless Oceans of Concentrations, Graphite on Paper, 2009, 9 3/8″ x 13″

Inexhaustible Oceans of Desire, Pencil on Paper, 2008, 9 3/8 x 13″

Study for Specimens from the Flowerbank World 1, Pencil on Rag Paper, 2008, 7 1/4″ x 5 1/8″

Study for Specimens from the Flowerbank World 2, Pencil on Rag Paper, 2008, 7 1/4″ x 5 1/8″



  1. Renata Zerner says:

    Inspiring and sensitive work! R Zerner

  2. Looking forward to a very beautiful and rewarding exhibit!

  3. this is the first time I’ve seen your work. “Inspiring”

  4. Nancy Cantwell says:

    Hey Charlie,
    I think if you had a chance to view these in person, you would see that the scale and detail make them more akin to 11th century book illuminations than 60’s poster art.
    Thanks for checking in with Times Quotidian!

  5. Mona Houghton says:


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