Rubin Museum breaks tradition to show the first Tibetan art show in New York – New York Times

TIBETAN CONTEMPORARY ART NEW YORK MUSEUM SHOWS

Until October 18, Rubin Museum, usually New York’s home for traditional art of the Himalayas, will run the first Tibetan contemporary art show in the city. Titled “Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond“, this exhibition showcases the works of nine Tibetan artists born within the period 1953 to 1982. In a review published by The New York Times, critic Ken Johnson comments on each of the artists’ works.

Kesang Lamdark from Zurich presents Johnson’s most highly recommended works. On display is a sculpture made of perforated beer cans. As one peers through the drinking hole they can see a “glowing, dotted-line image of a Tibetan deity.” He also presents O Mandala Tantric, a pin-pricked black disk of four-foot diameter.

The holes on 'O Mandala Tantric' by Kesang Lamdark are back-lighted, such that they create a complex mandala pattern composed of images of skulls and animals, erotic Buddhist art imageries and modern pornography. The work touches upon themes of “debasement of sex in the modern commerce” and the East-West divide over views on eroticism.

The holes on 'O Mandala Tantric' by Kesang Lamdark are back-lighted, such that they create a complex mandala pattern composed of images of skulls and animals, erotic Buddhist art imageries and modern pornography. The work touches upon themes of “debasement of sex in the modern commerce” and the East-West divide over views on eroticism.

The collages presented by Gonkar Gyatso from London are “graphically appealing,” but Johnson notes they would be more impressive if they advanced “the genre of Pop collage or ideas about spirituality and business.” One of the works on display is called Tibetan Idol 15.

'Tibetan Idol 15' by Gonkar Gystso is a collage of “hundreds of little stickers imprinted with familiar logos, cartoon characters and other signs of corporate empire” which form the “atomised silhouettes of the Buddha”.

'Tibetan Idol 15' by Gonkar Gystso is a collage of “hundreds of little stickers imprinted with familiar logos, cartoon characters and other signs of corporate empire” which form the “atomised silhouettes of the Buddha”.

The computer-generated prints by Losang Gyatso from Washington are, according to Johnson, “technically impressive” and “optically vivid”, but should attempt to draw a clearer relationship between “Buddha-mindedness” and “digital consciousness.” Clear Light Tara is one such work.

Large and colorful, 'Clear Light Tara' by Losang Gyatso is a computer-generated print which features “abstracted traditional motifs.”

Large and colorful, 'Clear Light Tara' by Losang Gyatso is a computer-generated print which features “abstracted traditional motifs.”

Ken Johnson comments on the paintings like Water 1 by Pema Rinzin from New York, stating that they are “uncomfortably close to hotel lobby decoration.”

'Water 1' by Pema Rinzin is a painting of “curvy, variously patterned shapes gathered into Cubist clusters.”

'Water 1' by Pema Rinzin is a painting of “curvy, variously patterned shapes gathered into Cubist clusters.”


Penba Wangdu from Tibet presents Links of Origination while Tenzin Norbu from Nepal presents Liberation. Both painters have the greatest “potential for narrative and symbolic elaboration,” but their works are “disappointingly decorous”, says Johnson.

Tenzin Norbu's 'Liberation' is made with stone ground pigments on cloth.

Tenzin Norbu's 'Liberation' is made with stone ground pigments on cloth.

Penba Wangdu’s 'Links of Origination' outlines a sleeping woman whose body contains a “dreamy, pastoral landscape where little people make love, give birth, drink beer and paddle a boat on a peaceful lake.”

Penba Wangdu’s 'Links of Origination' outlines a sleeping woman whose body contains a “dreamy, pastoral landscape where little people make love, give birth, drink beer and paddle a boat on a peaceful lake.”

Tsherin Sherpa from Oakland, California, presents a large watercolor painting which features, as Johnson describes, an “angry blue giant with a vulture perched on his shoulder and flames roiling behind him.” Another of the artist’s major works, Untitled, features on the official website of the exhibition.

Tsherin Sherpa's 'Untitled'.

Tsherin Sherpa's 'Untitled'.

Tenzing Rigdol from New York presents a large watercolor painting named Updating Yamantaka.

'Updating Yamantaka' by Tenzing Rigdol is composed of “crisscrossing bands” which are “layered over colorfully traditional imagery of deities and ornamentation.”

'Updating Yamantaka' by Tenzing Rigdol is composed of “crisscrossing bands” which are “layered over colorfully traditional imagery of deities and ornamentation.”

Dedron from Tibet is the only female artist in the show. We are Nearest to the Sun is painted to resemble to a “modern children’s book version of folk art.” It is a painting of a village “populated by little bug-eyed characters,” projecting the theme of “nostalgia for preindustrial times.”

'We are nearest to the Sun' by Dedron, the only female artist represented in "Tradition Transformed: Tibetan artists Respond".

'We are nearest to the Sun' by Dedron, the only female artist represented in "Tradition Transformed: Tibetan artists Respond".

Johnson sums up by stating that it is paradoxical that the “freedoms granted by modern art and culture” do not generate much imagination in the show’s artists, who still cling onto that classic Tibetan style of art that has existed “hundreds of years prior to the 20th century.” He conveys a hope that in future Rubin shows he will discover some Tibetan artists with “adventurous minds.”

CBKM/KN/HH

Related Topics: Tibetan artists, museum shows, New York venues, Buddhist art

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Comments

Rubin Museum breaks tradition to show the first Tibetan art show in New York – New York Times — 4 Comments

  1. Thank you for letting us know, Jon. It’s always great when readers can direct us to further points of interest on a topic. Yours is an enthralling review and it was interesting to see that many of the artworks were exhibited so much earlier than the New York show.

  2. Pingback: Tibetan Contemporary Art at the Rubin « Buddhist Art News

  3. Pingback: Tibetan Contemporary Art at the Rubin « 茶有の者 – A Man with Tea

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