The Buddha smiled and varicoloured rays of light extended from the smile, up to the gods in heaven and down to the various hells, where warmth brought relief to those suffering in the cold hells and its coolness brought relief to those in the hot hells

(Adaptation from The Legend of King Ashoka)

Buddha’s Smile introduces the story of Buddha in his multitude of incarnations and Buddhist inspired artwork from the NGV Collection and selected private Melbourne collections. Focusing on the tranquillity and silent transmission of Buddhist philosophy through the simple gesture of a smile, the exhibition presents the unique styles and mediums used to create Buddhist art throughout Asia.

Sculpture, textiles, paintings, scripts, prints and devotional objects displayed in thematic sections explore Buddha’s numerous incarnations, Zen philosophy, Buddhist costume, religious symbolism, painting conventions, and historical narratives.

Buddha’s Smile initiates new dialogues between a diverse variety of Asian artwork and illuminates Buddhist ideas in a new and visually intriguing manner.