Female Figure

Angkor period, Baphuon style, early 11th century
H. 38 in. (96.5 cm); 1979.65

Artist Comments

Bjorn Amelan and Bill T. Jones
When I observe the "performance in stone" that is the early eleventh-century Baphuon-style female figure, I wonder what was the artist's intent. If this is in fact the goddess Parvati, I struggle with the tension generated between this work's idealized abstraction and its mastery in eliciting from stone the most sensual supremely human aspects of a living body.

What is the function of this work?

If this goddess in meditative repose is intended to elicit the same in her follower, she is simultaneously a feast of suggested volumes, crevices, and lines that in fact titillate and arouse. Below the ample smoothness of her breasts and belly, there is the maddening promise of movement in her sarong as it slips downward past the swell of her hips. An austere cascade of line representing the garment's folds plunges past her sex, reserving the privilege of a flirtation in its airy fluting. Does this fluting "fishtail" catch a bit of breeze like the playful tie of her belt as it reveals the delicious recess of her navel?

Ping Chong
The quiet curves of this female figure, from the gentle slope of her shoulders, breasts rounding still, waist gliding through ample hips cascading down an elongated skirt, conspires to create an effect of chaste, insistent simplicity. The absence of a head, arms, and feet, the delicately etched lines of her skirts, demure and pale, reinforce this effect. At the same time, the lines return our eyes to the fullness of her torso in an emblematic embrace between a twenty-first century gaze and an expression in sandstone across the divide of culture and time.

Beth Forer
It is difficult to create something as pure and unadorned yet as visually arresting as this elegant figure. The simplicity of this sculpture is not the work of a beginner but rather the mature distillation of a master. Just as a haiku expresses meaning with few syllables, this piece conveys power with few gestures. Her beauty is timeless. The graceful silhouette is echoed in objects ranging from ancient Chinese bronzes to the classic Coca Cola bottle. Could I make a piece as simple yet as strong? Do I need the technical difficulty and profuse patterning that is so much a part of my work in order to prove my mastery?

Ong Keng Sen
The simple elegance of proportion and balance. I am drawn in particular to her belly and the suggestion beneath the translucent skinlike sarong. But her feet ...