Art Gallery to Feature 'Enso: Zen Circles of Enlightenment' | St. Lawrence University

Art Gallery to Feature 'Enso: Zen Circles of Enlightenment'

Lecture by Kazuaki Tanahashi at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 17 in Griffiths 123

Workshop with Kazuaki Tanahashi at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18, in Bewkes 333

St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery will present “Enso: Zen Circles of Enlightenment” beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 14, and running through Dec. 6.

The exhibition draws from Audrey Yoshiko Seo’s book by the same title, which is a collection of noteworthy paintings by Zen masters dating back to the 17th century. Enso is the Japanese word for circle, but it holds special significance in Zen Buddhism as well. As a Zen practice, the enso is painted in one stroke, in one breath, traditionally with black ink on white paper.

“When a line is alive,” said Kazuaki Tanahashi, an artist and scholar featured in Seo’s book, “you feel the breath of the artist as well as the breath of the brush.”

The form of the enso embraces the emptiness inside it. The “Heart Sutra” chanted in Zen temples around the world, tells us that form, in fact, is no different from emptiness.

“On the one hand, it is just a circle painted with one brushstroke, in a single breath,” wrote John Daido Loori in his foreword to Seo’s book. “On the other hand, it is the representation of the totality of the great void.”

The gallery exhibit will feature the works of Tanahashi as well as two regional Zen students and artists, Joseph Duemer and Lynette Monteiro, who share their journeys toward enlightenment. A video of Tanahashi’s at work can be viewed on YouTube.

Tanahashi will hold a lecture at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov.17 in Griffiths Arts Center, room 123. He will also conduct a workshop at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18, in Bewkes Science Hall, room 333. Registration for the workshop is required.

For more information, call 315-229-5174 or visit