Re-establishing the unfinished masterpiece by Auguste Rodin,



The Gates, which have been introduced as the prominent artwork of Optical Awakening Trans-Art, is a sculpture depicting the ‘Gates of Heaven(Nirvana)’ inspired by The Gates of Hell, the unfinished masterpiece sculpture by Auguste Rodin.


While The Gates of Hell symbolize the beginning of endless suffering as well as punishment from God on the one side, it could also symbolize the end of suffering from the other side, if one could extricate himself from hell through that gate.

According to Buddha, Nirvana (ultimate transcendence, the absolute awakening) is simply the end of dukkha, the end of suffering.

It means that the Gates of Hell could be the Gates of Nirvana at the same time, depending on which side of the gates that one is standing on.


The artist reinterprets the dual nature of the gates of Heaven and Hell by using the western religious definition of hell and Eastern philosophical understanding of Nirvana, and raises a profound question of religious philosophy through the Gates.


The artist solely reinterpreted the “gates,” instead of the scene from Dante Alighieri's Inferno depicted in the Gates of Hell, and completed it as the Gates of Nirvana. The artist contemplated on The Gates of Hell extensively before he created the Gates, which is the gates of hell and at the same time, the gates of Heaven or Nirvana, that reflects the perceiver’s inner state as a mirror.


The artist projected what he had realized at the moment of Gyun-sung (a glimpse of enlightenment) during a critical point early in his life when he was faced with hell (an inextricable quagmire when he believed the only way out was to commit suicide),and depicted the simple but profound truth in his work The Gates.


The artist shows that the suchness of life and your perceived reality is a mirror that reflects you. It is when you voluntarily accept the unacceptable aspects of life, instead of resenting or giving up in the face of unacceptable reality, that what you perceived to be the Gates to hell will show its true face and turn into the Gates through which you can discover your true nature that cannot be distorted by whatever happens in your life. By giving up what makes up your ego and leaving it behind the gates, you will be left with the immutable essence that cannot be altered by form and phenomena.

That immutability is your True Nature that will shine even if you let go of your dark ego.


The Gates face Hell on one side and Heaven on the other. It was made so that a rusty mirror, which has become damaged and discolored, reflects the viewers on the side toward Hell, and a clean and clear mirror reflects the viewers on the side toward Heaven. It has been explained that it is up to the viewers to decide on which side they want to stand to see the reflections of themselves and the world, and that this privilege to choose your own state is a true gift or blessing from God.

It is also the essence of free will that cannot be taken away by anyone.


The artist indicates that Heaven and Hell may not refer to a certain location or place, but they are actually one’s inner state of consciousness and a dimension of perceiver’s presence. The question of what to have reflected on the gates and which side of the gates to open depends on the individual’s own volition and their present state of consciousness.


The Gates original series


Original version

Exhibition Display @ Handan, Hanol Temple, Kangwha Island  │ 190cm*250cm stainless steel, brass, super mirror

  The Gates to Nirvana  



  Reinterpretation of la Porte de I'Enfer:
Doorway to Heaven, The Completion

For 20 years, Rodin worked on la Porte de I'Enfer (the Hell-gates) and left the world of form in order to enter into the world beyond form.


When I first encountered la Porte de I'Enfer, I felt its inexplicable presence in awe.

It took long time for me to re-encounter la Porte de I'Enfer - However, in Seoul this time.


I visited the Plato gallery time to time and contemplated on la Porte de I'Enfer.


I meditated on it consistently with my eye and soul.

I let la Porte de I'Enfer enter into my consciousness and I let my awareness enter into la Porte de I'Enfer.

I perceived it not merely with my eye and soul but also that of Rodin’s.

Until that silent presence of la Porte de I'Enfer whispered to me with the language of formlessness.


What is the thinker contemplating on?

What is the reason Rodin could not complete la Porte de I'Enfer?

What would be there beyond the doorway of Rodin’s la Porte de I'Enfer.

I contemplated on it until my thinking mind turned into the formless silence.


The purpose of gate is to enter into destination.

Isn’t the completion of the gate follows by discovering the destination first?

Has Rodin discovered his destination before leaving the world of form and go beyond the form?


The Hell is the punishment of God and the worst possible suffering.


The gates of Hell symbolizes the beginning of indefinite suffering.

However, from the other side of the gate, it symbolizes the end of suffering.


Shamefully, my self have confronted the hell and the death before.

(After the sudden passing of his father, the artist had to sacrifice himself and take insurmountable responsibility which eventually led him to mental breakdown.)


The life was hell then.

And I was being punished and suffering indefinitely without comprehensible reason.

I was about to choose the point of no return in order to extricate myself from the inescapable quagmire.


However, at the critical moment of self-extinction, I experienced a glimpse of enlightenment.


I came to realize that

“There is an immutable state of consciousness and bright substance in me that any suffering, despair or phenomena of life including the hell and even the death cannot distort.”

After that realization, I accepted what was given to me, including the hell and sufferings, with unconditional surrender, as if they were my tailor-made choices.


After I unconditionally surrendered to the suchness of life,

by giving up resistance and resentment,

I was presented with peace.


Only then, the suchness of Life, the hell-gate to my ego, unmasked its face and became a portal to heaven beyond ego.

By surrendering what made of Ego, I found what was left of me: the true nature.

That was my doorway into Heaven.


Could Rodin completed la Porte de I'Enfer if he had more time?


One certain thing is that “no matter how great pieces of art or beautiful sculpture he adds to la Porte de I'Enfer, it world have been out of Rodin’s mind.”






The Gates [The re-interpretation of la Porte de I'Enfer: the completion of portal to Heaven ] is a mirror that reflects my self.

The side of Hell reflects my self (Ego) with deteriorated, scratched and contaminated mirror.

The side of Heaven reflects my SELF (True Nature) with its original clear state, the pure side of mirror.






It is your choice to stand on which side to reflect your presence.

It also reflects the Free-will given by the grace of God that cannot be taken away from you.


Heaven may not reflect place or space.

It may be the reflection of your inner dimension Now.

So is Hell.


That’s what I believe.






Hommage to Auguste Rodin


by Sewon Shin





* Displayed at the mobile gallery Hermitage in Kangwha, Seoul and Daegu, on rotation.

Exhibition Display @ Handan, Hanol Temple, Kangwha Island

Exhibition Display @ Daegu Temple, Trans-Art Gallery