photorealism artist Chuck Close, Lucian Freud, Frida Kahlo, and
David Hockney.” A series of prints on canvas, each one depicting an
identical Buddha image, done in vivid colors such as magenta, gold,
and bright green, resembleWarhol’s silk-screen images of celebrities.
“ My Buddha images have an artificial quality, same as my other
portraits and which are reflecting our contemporary pop culture
too,” Tashi said.
Images like the Buddha series underscore the continuing dialogue
between traditional and contemporary art forms. Tashi’s landscapes,
also represented in the show at PW Contemporary, reflect an
aesthetic quality that can be seen in older Tibetan painting styles.
“ When I painted landscapes, I was very much concerned with
making a kind of Tibetan modern art, even though I was using
none of the traditional mediums. I have absorbed some elements
from traditional art, like vivid outline, which was always used by
traditional artists when they painted landscapes, plants and so on.
If you look at the Tibetan landscape, the outlines of nature, color,
and contrast always are very sharp and clear.”
As a contemporary artist, Tashi faced challenges getting his work
seen by the public because of the high value placed on the traditional
arts of Tibet. “Generally speaking, outsiders know much more about
the Tibetan traditional art than the Tibetan contemporary art. For
tourists and souvenir collectors, usually they buy traditional art,
handcrafts as made by Tibetans. However, contemporary Tibetan
art has been developing and growing since the middle of the last
century, especially after the Cultural Revolution. And slowly
have changed people’s understanding of Tibetan art and artists. In
October, I had a solo exhibition at the art gallery Rossi & Rossi in
London, and now I’m going to have another exhibition at Peaceful
Wind Gallery in Santa Fe. Twenty years back, these would have been
impossible for me.”
Artists in China and Tibet faced other challenges under Mao
Zedong during the Cultural Revolution, when contemporary art
was created in service to the state. “ Until economic reform started
in China in the early 1980s, including the Tibet Autonomous
Wine Seller No.
oil on canvas, 51 x 51 inches
oil on canvas, 57 x 38 inches