Also on View > Lewis deSoto

Thursday, Feb 15, 2018-Sunday, Mar 04, 2018
Paranirvana (self-portrait)
Lewis deSoto
Paranirvana (self-portrait)
1999, painted nylon, electric fan, 84 x 300 x 72 in. (213.4 x 762 x 182.9 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Museum purchase, International and Contemporary Collectors Funds, 2002.6.a-x. © Lewis deSoto 1999. Photo: Pablo Mason.
Interested in exploring the themes of physical change and the passage of time, Lewis deSoto portrays himself as Buddha at the moment of death and supreme consciousness. Inspired by the colossal rock carving of the 12th-century Gal Vihara Buddha in Sri Lanka, Paranirvana refers to a condition of transcendence beyond physical needs and desires. 
Inflated by a simple fan mechanism, the work's fragile materiality and empty interior underscore a sense of insubstantiality and impermanence. deSoto's substitution of his own face for the Buddha's plays the specificity of self-portraiture in Western culture against the Buddhist teaching that there is no distinct "self," that individuals are merely a combination of ever-changing physical and mental energies.