Paul Kaptein – Sunyata: Philosophy of Emptiness

Paul Kaptein - a contour of emptiness

Paul Kaptein is a sculptor based out of Perth, Australia. He creates really unique hand carved wooden sculptures. By sampling from various cultural and temporal trajectories he suggests a remixed present, where things are not quite truth, yet not quite fiction. The figures have empty spaces which give them incredible and conspicuous look. The artist found his inspiration in sunyata, a Sanskrit word translated into English as emptiness. It is the knowledge of the ultimate reality of all objects, material and phenomenal. Sunyata explains that everything is interrelated, interdependent and is without substance or soul. The emptiness in Kaptein’s sculptures does not mean that there is no existence of matter. It does not mean that there is no existence of feelings, perceptions or ideas. The five aggregates that comprise a sentient being, i.e. body, feelings, perceptions, mind formations or thought process, and consciousness, are impermanent, ever-changing and therefore empty. Forms or material things are compounded, the result of something else, the effect of a cause, and are therefore impermanent and empty. As the artist says sunyata is often considered a void, offering endless possibilities.

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