World-Renowned Sanso Collection Arrives at Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

On Monday night, a sudden explosion of percussion echoed throughout Scripps’ campus. No, it was not a drumline’s accompaniment to a 5C cheerleading squad. It was the celebratory clamor for the commencement of the latest exhibition in the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, “Zen! Japanese Paintings from the Sanso Collection.” The outdoor opening reception welcomed Zen and art enthusiasts alike to the gallery, and festivities continued inside, where visitors admired the paintings to a soundtrack of live traditional Koto music. The Zen exhibition features 35 paintings out of the 200 in the Sanso Collection, each piece chosen for its portrayal of Zen themes. The paintings were selected to represent a variety of Zen concepts and subject matter, and pieces include paintings of typical Zen monks and abbots as well as portraits of the Zen master Bodhidharma and Bodhisattva Kannon. Though the collection represents Zen art as it has been for hundreds of years, the individual pieces are mainly from the 15th to 16th century. Many of the pieces were created by Zen monks and abbots, and some were created by professional artists commissioned to make pieces inspired by Zen subject matter. Each piece evokes elements of Zen through powerful brushwork and strong composition.

Bruce Coats, professor of art history and the humanities at Scripps, explained that the main reason for the exhibition at the gallery is the Core III class, Arts and Literature of Zen Buddhism. The Zen exhibition serves as an extension of the class and provides texts for students to study firsthand. The paintings belong to the Sanso Collection, a world-renowned privately owned collection, and as such are rarely seen by the public. Bruce Coats said of the collection, “It is a real honor to have these world famous works in our gallery.”


“Zen! Japanese Paintings from the Sanso Collection” opened on Oct. 31 and will run through Dec. 6. The gallery is free and open to the public, Wednesday through Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, contact the gallery at (909) 607-3397.