In the Western world, art and self-expression are often thought of as going hand-in-hand, but in Tibet the two concepts are worlds apart. An exhibition of Tibetan contemporary art, entitled "Anonymous," explores the exchange between art and the self, a dialogue which is always in motion.
Dedron , Mona Lisa, 2012, Mineral pigment on canvas, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection
Tibetan art production first emerged as a vessel for exploring Buddhist culture, which held anonymity in the highest regard. In contemporary culture, however, an understanding of the individual became important as the author and artist themselves blossomed, leading to a complex and ever-shifting conception of artistic identity. "Anonymous" features over 50 different ways of expressing the self through artwork, through the means of painting, sculpture, installation and video art. Whether created in Tibet or in diaspora, the works grapple with reconciling Tibetan ideology and the trajectory of contemporary art.
Jhamsang , Mr. XXX, 2010, Digital print, silkscreen, collage, and acrylic on canvas, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection
"Anonymous" is both an archive and a laboratory for the burgeoning tradition of visual self-representation in the region. As curator Rachel Perera Weingeist told ArtDaily, "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."
Dedron's "Mona Lisa," features a pop-art riff on traditional Tibetan religious imagery, with a little classic art history lesson thrown in for good measure. Jhamsang looks toward the future with "Mr. XXX," a fabricated ID card for a Robotic Buddha figure. In addition, a curatorial panel has selected video submissions from anonymous Tibetan citizens and artists, allowing outsiders to view faraway and often censored images for the first time.
Each "Anonymous" work creates its own world with its own understanding of how the self and art exist and interact. The show presents work from a variety of artists, hailing from Dharamsala, Kathmandu, Lhasa, New York City, Oakland, Thimphu, Zurich and Australia. The show runs until December 15 at The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York in New Paltz.
See a selection of the colorful works below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Benchung, Ascetic, Ascetic, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection
Marie-Dolma Chophel, Winter, 2013 , Oil, enamel, paint marker and spray paint on canvas, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection
Tulku Jamyang, Man-Dala, 2011, Chromogenic color print with ink, Private Collection, New York
Kesang Lamdark, Dorge Drakkten, 2012 Melted plastic and acrylic, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection
Kesang Lamdark, Kiss, 2012 Melted plastic and acrylic, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection
Nortse, Group Photo, 2007, Chromogenic color print, Courtesy the artist and Rossi & Rossi, London
Tsewang Tashi, Shangri-La No.1, 2008, Digital Photograph, Courtesy the artist