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Tradition Transformed main exhibition | Introduction


Rubin Museum of Art New York
June 11 - October 18, 2010


The Artists

Dedron, the only woman artist in Tradition Transformed, was born in Lhasa in 1976. Her richly-hued paintings of land and cityscapes—many of which are created on pieces of recycled leather from traditional Tibetan shoes—invoke common Tibetan motifs such as buddhas, yaks, and nomads without referencing traditional Tibetan religious art. Her distinct style incorporates Modernist, Cubist, and Surrealist influences.

Gonkar Gyatso
Gonkar Gyatso was born in Lhasa in 1961. Gyatso’s frustrations with being disconnected from the cultural observances of previous generations of Tibetans is a recurring theme in his work, which often features his trademark Buddhas constructed out of collaged colorful stickers and cutouts from pop culture magazines. He is the founder of the Sweet Tea House (London), the first gallery in Europe devoted to showcasing contemporary Tibetan art.

Losang Gyatso
Losang Gyatso was born in pre-Communist Tibet in 1953, but was raised and educated in Britain and the United States. Gyatso began creating works of art in 1992, simply wishing to privately explore his own aesthetics. This evolved into an interest in Tibetan pictographs, folk imagery, textiles, and utilitarian objects. Most recently Gyatso has used photographs and videos by and of Tibetans to create exaggerated, pixilated works that are nearly unrecognizable up close but take shape at a distance. He played the role of Lord Chamberlain Phala in Martin Scorsese's film, Kundun.

Kesang Lamdark
Kesang Lamdark, the son of a reincarnated lama, was born in Dharamsala in 1963 and raised in Switzerland. Lamdark’s work typically combines unusual materials with light. He is best known for his pierced beer can art, created by pin-prick engravings on mirrors that are then illuminated from within. Lamdark’s experiences in India, Switzerland, and the United States have resulted in a complex fusion of ideas and influences.

Tenzin Norbu
Tenzin Norbu was born in 1971 in Dolpo, Nepal to a family that has produced painters for over 400 years. He is well-known in Nepal for his fusion of traditional art and contemporary illustration set in his pastoral, innovative rendering of landscapes, many of which feature scenes of traditional life in the high Himalaya. Norbu has illustrated four children’s books and founded the Kula Ri Mountain School in his native Panzang Valley, creating educational opportunities for children in this remote region.

Tenzing Rigdol
Tenzing Rigdol was born in 1982 in Kathmandu, Nepal. He grew up under the influence of a carpet factory in Nepal, acquiring production skills that are reflected in the precise graphic structures of his paintings. He has trained in traditional Tibetan art forms, classical painting, traditional Tibetan carpet design, Tibetan sand painting, and butter sculpture. Rigdol refers to his work as “fusionism,” a term that aptly describes what often looks like cubist deconstructions of traditional Tibetan thangkas.

Pema Rinzin
Pema Rinzin was born in 1966 in Tibet while his family was en route to India. He is a master Tibetan thangka painter and his traditional training takes interesting shape in his contemporary works. Rinzin’s paintings in Tradition Transformed are based on clouds, a ubiquitous Tibetan thangka motif. After his three-year tenure as artist-in-residence at the Rubin Museum of Art, Rinzin founded the New York Tibetan Art Studio in Brooklyn.

Tsherin Sherpa
Tsherin Sherpa was born in 1968 in Kathmandu, Nepal. He started studying thangka painting at the age of twelve under the guidance of his father, a renowned thangka artist from Nyalam, Tibet. His art questions contemporary methods and rhetoric of preserving tradition in the modern world. Sherpa’s disarmingly colorful paintings are often filled with images of the trappings of consumerism and merge such disparate forms as Buddhist deities with gas masks, mudras under fire, and pop art-style bombs and money signs hovering above traditional Buddhist forms.

Penba Wangdu
Penba Wangdu was born in Shigatse, Tibet in 1969 and has spent the majority of his life in Central Tibet. Of the Tradition Transformed artists, his works remain truest to traditional Tibetan aesthetics, narratives and materials—he is one of the few living artists who continue to use traditional stone ground minerals. Wangdu's works offer a spin on the visual representation of Tibetan Buddhist anxieties such as envy and lust.

Tradition Transformed main exhibition | Introduction | exhibitions