For centuries, in the shadow of the Himalayas, the strict traditions of classical Tibetan art were passed in an unbroken lineage from master to student. Beginning in the nineteenth century, those traditions came increasingly into contact with new styles and influences from Asia and the West, and the new media and challenges of Western modernity. In the last decade contemporary Tibetan art has flowered around the globe. Its arrival on the international art scene has been heralded most recently by Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond at the Rubin Museum of Art, the first exhibition of contemporary Tibetan artist at a New York museum. Now, together with ArtAsiaPacific and The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Trace Foundation poses the question, What lies ahead for Tibetan art, beyond the Himalayas?
Ashley Rawlings is a writer, editor, and translator based in Brooklyn. Born and raised in London, he majored in Japanese studies at the University of Cambridge, and conducted research into postwar Japanese art at Sophia University in Tokyo. Based in Tokyo from 2005 to 2009, he was an editor and translator at Tokyo Art Beat, and contributed to variety of Japanese and international publications, including The Japan Times, ART iT, Pingmag, Saatchi Online, DAMn˚, ArtReview, ArtAsiaPacific, and Artforum.com. From 2009 to 2011 he was the features editor and managing editor of ArtAsiaPacific magazine at its offices in New York, and he remains a contributing editor.
Charlie Finch grew up in the New York art world, curating his first show in 1968. He is a graduate of Phillips Academy and Yale. Charlie was the New York editor of the radical art journal Coagula and the longtime host of Artbreaking, a weekly interview show on WBAI-FM, New York. Since 1997, he has been senior critic of Artnet.com, the world's most respected branded art website, and he currently serves as culture columnist for the Paris Review online.
In 2007 Carol K. Huh was appointed the first curator of contemporary art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which together constitute the national museum for Asian art at the Smithsonian Institution. Through exhibitions and public programs, she is responsible for further developing the galleries’ effort to explore current environments of social change and artistic production related to Asia. Recent projects have included exhibitions such as the museum’s ongoing Perspectives series (including works by Y. Z. Kami, Anish Kapoor, and Hai Bo), Moving Perspectives (a year-long series of exhibitions featuring video art from Asia), and a special exhibition of works by Fiona Tan. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Georgetown University.
Clare Harris is Reader in Visual Anthropology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. She is also curator of Asian Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum (the University of Oxford’s museum of anthropology and archaeology), and a Fellow of Magdalen College. Her publications and research focus on the material and visual culture of Tibet and the Himalayas. She has produced three books—including In the Image of Tibet: Tibetan Painting after 1959 (Reaktion Books, London 1999)—the first study of modern Tibetan art. Dr. Harris has curated exhibitions (such as Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital in 2003) and was instrumental in the creation of The Tibet Album, a website and research tool featuring historic photographs of Tibet. She has recently completed the manuscript for her next book, The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics and the Representation of Tibet.
Tenzin Norbu Lama was born in Dolpo, Nepal, into a family of painters with a lineage of over 400 years. His work has appeared in several international publications, including Caravans of the Himalaya, National Geographic, and the feature film Himalaya. He is also the illustrator for four children’s book, including Himalaya, and Clear Sky, Red Earth, with author Sienna Craig, about a famous woman painter from his family’s history. In 2001, Tenzin Norbu founded the Kula Mountain School in his native Panzang Valley, creating educational opportunities for the children of the remote region. He currently resides in Dolpo and Kathmandu.
Tsherin Sherpa was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1968. He received formal training in traditional thangka painting from his father Urgen Dorje, a master thangka artist from Nyalam. Together, father and artists worked on numerous projects including both thangka and monastery murals. In 1998 Tsherin Sherpa moved to the U.S. where he worked as a thangka artist and instructor at different Buddhist centers. This year he was awarded the Rubin Himalayan Artist Fellowship, an artist retreat, at the Vermont Studio Center. He currently resides in Oakland, California.
Tenzin Rigdol was born in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has a diploma in traditional thangka painting and also studied sand painting and butter sculpture in Kathmandu and India. In 2005, he attained a BA in Art History and a BFA in Painting/Drawing at the University of Colorado at Denver. Tenzing Rigdol’s art has been exhibited in numerous venues in the US, the UK, Hong Kong and China. In 2008 he was awarded the Rubin Himalayan Artist Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center. He now lives and works in New York City.
Gonkar Gyatso was born in 1961 in Lhasa and studied fine art in Beijing and London. He is the founder of the contemporary Tibetan art gallery The Sweet Tea House and is currently based and working in London and New York. He has been selected to take a part in the fifty-third Venice Biennial 2009.
His work has been internationally published and exhibited in galleries and museums including The Chinese National Art Gallery (Beijing), The Kangra Museum (India), The Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art (Scotland), the Courtauld Institute of Art (London), the Wereld Museum Rotterdam (Netherlands), and the Colorado University Art Museum and Collections (USA). Works by Gyatso are now held in the Newark Museum (USA), the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (Australia), Burger Collection (Switzerland), Rossi & Rossi (London), Red Gate Gallery (Beijing), and numerous private collections.
Kesang Lamdark was born in Dharamsala but grew up in Switzerland, where he currently resides. He worked as an interior architect before coming to New York City to study at the Parson’s School of Design and later at Columbia University, where he obtained an MFA in visual art. He has exhibited works in both solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. He currently resides in Zürich.
Losang Gyatso was born in Lhasa and grew up in Great Britain. He studied advertising in San Francisco before becoming an art director at several ad agencies in New York City in the '80s and early '90s. He began making artwork in the 1990s to explore the way Tibetan culture and people, including himself, were changing. His interests include Tibetan petroglyphs, traditional Tibetan visual arts, Tibetan woven and household objects, and photography and video both by and of Tibetans. Gyatso is the founder and current director of the Mechak Center for Contemporary Tibetan Art, an initiative to create a community for Tibetan artists. The Mechak Center co-organized Waves on the Turquoise Lake in 2006, the first major museum exhibition to feature the works of contemporary Tibetan artists from both inside and outside Tibet. His exhibitions include: The Fowler Museum, The Sweet Tea House Gallery, Rossi & Rossi Gallery, and The Peaceful Wind Gallery in Santa Fe.
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