Trapped in a bottle A traditional artist depicts ill-effects of alcohol
Sometimes, it takes only a trigger to find expression to your artistic skills. For Gyempo Wangchuk, 28, the loss of his father to alcohol acted as the trigger.
For this 28-year-old graduate of the Insti- tute of Zorig Chusum from Trashiyangtse, art is something that helps him say what he wants to without uttering a word. And this is what he has done in an unusually creative piece of art.
He was so grief-stricken by the death of his father that he decided to put his skills on canvas. The resulting fine work of art sums up the bad effects of alcohol. The painting done in the traditional Buddhist iconographic style is in the shape of a bottle. Trapped inside the bottle are all kinds of illeffects of alcohol.
At a glance, the painting is an image of death, sickness, and suffering. It’s an image of ailing, wailing human beings trapped in a constrictive space. At a closer look, though, there are many details to take note of.
Gyempo explains that the capsules, syringes, and stethoscopes in the painting are a metaphor for tireless effort of medical professionals to save his father’s life. He helplessly watched his father die in agony. He depicted himself in the painting as a rabbit, his birth sign, helplessly witnessing the whole scene.
Gyempo says he has been an art enthusiast from a very young age. For him, art is a powerful means of expression. But no artistic inspiration for him has been more sublime than his father’s death. “I still dread the memory of that day when I saw my father die from alcohol,” he said. “It was when I realized that I have to make people aware of what alcohol can really do to people.’’
Gyempo says he was a “normal guy” with a normal dream until his father’s death in 2013.
The painting took him three months. He put his heart and soul into the painting to pour all his emotions into it. And his emotions have come out in the painting in all its forms. Bad and horrifying effects of alcohol like anger, memory loss, and vomiting are depicted in the painting.
The painting also depicts a popular Buddhist tale of a celibate monk who slept with a woman and slaughtered a goat after getting drunk. The story depicts alcohol as the three root causes of evil.
The cap of the bottle is shown surrounded by human heads which, according to Gyempo, means that few people can come out clean from alcohol addiction. The chain around the neck of the bottle is a metaphor for alcoholics who are shackled like prisoners forever.
The painting also depicts the sun overshadowed by clouds which represents his father’s untimely death. A wine glass and a wooden cup, half filled with blood, symbolize alcohol. The bottle is painted against the backdrop of prayers with which the artist seeks to find a place for his father in a paradise.
Gyempo says that artists like him have a lot of messages to convey. He is currently runs his own studio and collaborates with VAST.