All art is political: Tibet’s contemporary art in New York – picture feast

Tibetan art in New York shows that the language of contemporary art is truly global.

From 20 July to 15 December 2013, an exhibition of Tibetan contemporary art, taken mainly from The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation’s collection, showcases new and dynamic art from Tibetan artists for the American audience.

Dedron, 'Mona Lisa', 2012, mineral pigment on canvas, 39.25 x 31 in. Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Dedron, ‘Mona Lisa’, 2012, mineral pigment on canvas, 39.25 x 31 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz, New York, is hosting an exhibition of contemporary Tibetan art. Titled “Anonymous“, the exhibition includes over fifty works by 27 artists who live in Tibet, as well as diaspora artists. Painting, sculpture, video, photography and installation art are on view from 20 July to 15 December 2013, with the exhibition travelling to the Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont and the Queens Museum of Art, New York.

Tulku Jamyang, 'Man-Dala', 2011, chromogenic color print with ink, 33.25 x 27.50 in. Private collection, New York. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Tulku Jamyang, ‘Man-Dala’, 2011, chromogenic colour print with ink, 33.25 x 27.5 in. Private collection, New York. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Guest curator Rachel Perera Weingeist, Senior Advisor to The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, chose many of the works from the Rubins’ private collection. Several works were created specifically for the exhibition.

Jhamsang, 'Mr. XXX', 2010, digital print, silkscreen, collage and acrylic on canvas, 52 x 77 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Jhamsang, ‘Mr. XXX’, 2010, digital print, silkscreen, collage and acrylic on canvas, 52 x 77 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

According to the press release, “‘Anonymous’ seeks to explore the tension between an ancient culture’s unbroken artistic tradition and the personality-driven world of contemporary art.”

The press release goes on to say that “art is becoming a vital medium of self-expression for
Tibetans—increasingly, artists are creating work focused on the individual. A cautious 21st century visual language steeped in irony, metaphor, and allusion has fully emerged.”

Rabkar Wangchuk, 'Spiritual Mind and Modern Technology', 2013, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 78 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Rabkar Wangchuk, ‘Spiritual Mind and Modern Technology’, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 78 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

The curator states in the press release:

It is only roughly in the last ten years that a contemporary Tibetan visual culture has galvanised. Concepts of anonymity, authorship and self-representation are still very much in flux. By and large there is trepidation and reserved acceptance of this new introspective visual culture.

Marie-Dolma Chophel, 'Winter', 2013, oil, enamel, paint marker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 60 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Marie-Dolma Chophel, ‘Winter’, 2013, oil, enamel, paint marker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 60 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

The exhibition includes the following artists, along with other anonymous contributors:

Nortse, 'Group Nortse, 'Group Photo', 2007, chromogenic colour print, 21.7 x 20.8 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.', 2007, Chromogenic color print, 21.7 x 20.8 in., Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection.  Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Nortse, ‘Group Photo’, 2007, chromogenic colour print, 21.7 x 20.8 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

An online review published in Phayul states that a common motif in contemporary Tibetan art is self-immolation and all art is political.

Benchung, 'Ascetic', 2012, acrylic on canvas, 47.25 x 31.5 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Benchung, ‘Ascetic’, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 47.25 x 31.5 in. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Kesang Lamdark, 'Dorge Drakkten and Kiss', 2012, melted plastic and acrylic, two panels, 94.5 x 50 x 0.75 inches each. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Kesang Lamdark, ‘Dorge Drakkten and Kiss’, 2012, melted plastic and acrylic, two panels, 94.5 x 50 x 0.75 in each. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Kesang Lamdark, 'Dorge Drakkten and Kiss', 2012, melted plastic and acrylic, two panels, 94.5 x 50 x 0.75 inches each. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Kesang Lamdark, ‘Dorge Drakkten and Kiss’, 2012, melted plastic and acrylic, two panels, 94.5 x 50 x 0.75 in each. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Image courtesy Anonymous Contemporary Tibetan Art.

Tsewang Tashi, 'Shangri-la No.1' 2008, digital photo, 59.1 x 39.8 in. Image courtesy artist.

Tsewang Tashi, ‘Shangri-la No.1’, 2008, digital photograph, 59.1 x 39.8 in. Image courtesy the artist.

Susan Kendzulak

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Related Topics: Tibetan artists, installation art, art and the community

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