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BOUNDLESS: Contemporary Tibetan Artists at Home & Abroad

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Fig. 48:
Gas Can
Tsherin Sherpa
Archival ink, gold leaf, and gouache on paper
On loan from the Kalsang Y. Tashi and Sonam Gyaltsen private collection

This painting mixes traditional and nontraditional media to depict a small petrol canister with a butterfly perched on its handle. On the can's surface is a diagram pointing to the measurement that painter of Tibetan Buddhist subjects use to ensure their iconographic accuracy. The fierce protector deity, however, is left bare and exposed, as paint has yet to fill the white outlines. The work references Tibetan self-immolation, which rapidly grew in number in 2009, in protest of the People's Republic of China government's policies in the Tibetan homeland. This work references a much larger piece, 49 Gas Cans, which the artist completed earlier in the year. Composed of seven rows of seven paintings, the work evokes both multicolored prayer flags and Andy Warhol-esque imagery.